Barge spills over 5,000 tonnes of bauxite in Solomon Islands waters

Image: Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands
Image: Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands – The grounded Solomon Trader

The Guardian reports that Kangava Bay in the Solomon Islands once again experienced a major pollution incident this year after a large quantity of bauxite fell from a cargo barge into the bay’s waters earlier this month.

The waters surrounding Rennell Island, which also contains a reef that had been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reportedly turned rusty brown to red in colour as a result of the incident.

The bauxite was being loaded onto a barge for eventual smelting when it slipped into the sea. An estimated 5,000 tonnes of the ore had reportedly spilled.

Bintang Mining Solomon Islands has suspended its loading operations in the area as the Solomon Islands Government considers its options for the eventual cleanup.

The spill had occurred in the same general area where the Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier Solomon Trader ran aground and leaked more than 75 tonnes of heavy fuel oil on February 4 of this year.

The Solomon Islands Government has not yet given its approval for the cleanup of the earlier oil spill as the comprehensive environmental assessment of the area is still ongoing.

The government is expected to announce its approval for the Solomon Trader cleanup on July 17.

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