Aug 19, 2019 | Updated: 08:55 AM EDT

Barge Refloat After Spilling Tons of Oil

May 14, 2019 07:37 AM EDT


The ship at the middle of an environmental catastrophe near World-Heritage listed waters in the Solomon Islands has been refloated after being marooned on a coral reef for more than three months. The MV Solomon Trader ran aground while stocking bauxite-the most important ore of aluminum which contains only 30 to 54 percent alumina; the rest is a combination of silica, various iron oxides, and titanium dioxide along with small amounts of zinc, phosphorous, nickel, vanadium and others-at Rennell Island, about 240 kilometres-roughly 149 miles-south of the capital Honiara. The 225-meter or 740-foot, ship was transporting more than 700 tons of heavy fuel and oozed a huge amount of oil into the sea, generating an international effort to contain the spill.

"They have been trying to refloat the vessel since Thursday but because of low tide they have not been able to, until today", the chairman of the Solomons National Disaster Council, Melchior Mataki, told AFP.

The oil slick-covering more than six kilometers-has nearly extended the span of the shoreline, devastating the lives of islanders who rely on the clean waters of the environmentally delicate territory. Rennell Island is the largest elevated coral island in the world and includes a UNESCO World Heritage site which extends hundreds of kilometers out to sea. Authorities have said the site was not disturbed by the spill, although Mataki said a thorough environmental valuation will be started now that the vessel is out of the way.

"There is a preliminary report but the full report will be made known once assessments and investigation findings are compiled properly", he said, adding the government would likely seek reparations for any and all environmental destruction.

The Australian government had sent salvage experts to assist the response and vowed to help the Solomons make sure those responsible for the spill are held to account. The Hong Kong-registered ship was chartered by Indonesian-based Bintan Mining and was loaded with almost 11,000 tons of bauxite at the time of the incident.

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