Flow of bunker fuel from Solomon Trader is plugged

A successful salvage operation over the weekend halted the flow of bunker fuel from grounded bulk carrier Solomon Trader (IMO 9075670)

The vessel ran aground on February 5th while loading bauxite in bad weather off Rennell Island, Solomon Islands. Australia has since been assisting the Solomons in fighting the potential environmental disaster, which occurred near a premier UNESCO world heritage site.

The vessel’s anchor dragged and the ship became lodged on a reef near the world’s largest raised coral atoll. She has since been declared a CTL after poor weather and logistical difficulties exacerbated the impact of the accident.

About 70 tonnes of the 600 tonnes of oil on board the ship spilt, and there were fears that the rest of the oil could enter the environment.

Work began on Friday March 8th to pump fuel from the breached tank into a secure container, which was transferred to a barge over the weekend.

The worst of the spill appeared to be over, with much of the oil spilt moving out to sea and dissipating. However, of increasing concern was the high amount of toxic bauxite in the sea, which local reports at the time said was the result of two contracted barging dumped their cargoes onto the reef subsequent to the accident.

Local newspaper Solomon Star reported over the weekend that the Marine Protected Area (MPA) at Lavangu Bay on Rennell Island where the ship grounded had been “completely destroyed” by spilled oil.

“One cannot see anything inside the MPA as the water turns black from the oil and kills all the marine life inside the protected area,” a Solomon Islands Maritime Authority told the local newspaper.

1994-built, Hong Kong-flagged, 38,779 gt Solomon Trader is owned and managed by King Trader Ltd of Hong Kong. ISM manager is Smart-Trans Shipping Co Ltd of Jiangsu, China. It is entered with Korea P&I Club.

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