Grounded Bulk Carrier Threatens UNESCO World Heritage Site in Solomon Islands

solomon trader aground
MV Solomon Trader aground on Rennell Island.

Authorities in the Solomon Islands have reported a breach in the hull of the grounded bulk carrier MV Solomon Trader, sparking fears of an environmental disaster near the East Rennell UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Solomon Trader has been aground since February 4 when it was pushed onto a reef off Rennell Island due to stormy weather. The ship had been loading bauxite from nearby mine when the incident occurred.

So far no oil pollution has been detected, but according to the director of the Solomon Islands’ National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Loti Yates, water has now flooded the ship’s engine room.

“The boat is still on the reef and that water is coming into the engine room, which means that the hull of the ship has been breached,” said Yates, according to a report by Radio New Zealand. “But there is no sign of oil spillage which means the tanks have not been breached.”

The nearby East Rennell atoll and its surrounding corals has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998 and it is listed as one of the World Heritage Sites in Danger by the UNESCO committee in 2013.

Salvage of the Solomon Trader is being coordinated by the NDMO.