Australia to deploy additional assets for containing Solomon Trader oil spill

Image: Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands
Image: Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands `

An offshore pollution mitigation task force under the leadership of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is being mobilised for deployment to help contain an oil spill from a grounded cargo ship in the Solomon Islands, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed in a statement on Sunday, March 3.

The task force consisting of equipment, vessels, and specialised personnel was formed in response to a request for assistance by the Solomon Islands Government after a significant volume of heavy fuel oil (HFO) had leaked from the bulk carrier Solomon Trader in the weeks since its grounding on Rennell Island on February 4.

Up to 75 tonnes of HFO from the ship has dispersed and contaminated the ecologically delicate area in and around East Rennell, the world’s largest raised coral atoll and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. More than 600 tonnes of HFO remains on the stricken vessel.

The AMSA-led task force will work alongside the Solomon Islands Government’s own oil spill response and salvage teams, the minister added.

Earlier aid from Australia came in the form of technical experts and cleanup gear that AMSA provided in the third week following Solomon Trader’s grounding.

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