The East Rennell world heritage site is the largest raised coral atoll in the world. Since 2013 the site has been on a UNESCO danger list because of logging and overfishing.
As of now, over 80 tonnes of oil has spilled from the bulker Solomon Trader. The incident is already considered an environmental disaster, as well as the worst man-made natural disaster ever to hit the Solomon Islands.
After contacting aerial assessments on the Solomon Trader, AMSA confirmed that the oil spill has started to disperse across the surrounding sea and shoreline. The oil expands five to six kilometres across the shore and is moving towards the East Rennell world heritage site.
It also added that there is a high risk that the rest of HFO on the vessel, which is estimated to be more than 600 tonnes, will be released into the surrounding area.
The Solomon Islands have assigned responsibility to salvage the vessel and mitigate the environmental impact of this incident rests with the commercial entities involved. However, Australia noted that it is disappointed by the slow response of these companies, and their lack of adequate communications with and responsiveness to the Solomon Islands government.
As for Australia, it will continue to provide its help to the Solomon Islands government's efforts to make sure that the commercial parties responsible for this incident take action.