eight col MV SOLOMON TRADER

Authorities in Solomon Islands are working against time and the weather to try and prevent what they say could be an environmental disaster, if oil spills from a bulk carrier that's been grounded on a reef on the remote island of Rennell, south of the capital Honiara.

The 225 meter-long ship, the MV Solomon Trader was grounded a week ago, after attempting to collect bauxite from a nearby mine site.

The ship's engine room is already filling with water and bad weather has prevented any salvage operation.

Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office has begun emergency briefings with government agencies about the situation.

The acting Director of the Solomon Islands Maritime Administration Jonah Mitau says the biggest worry is the threat of oil leaking from the boat.

"We treat this is as a disaster, its imminent, we think that there is possibility for an oil spill," he told Pacific Beat. "If the weather continues to deteriorate, then we will be having an oil spill situation. We do not have the equipment to contain such a situation. We are trying to get the ship owner and agent to organise themselves."
The ship is currently grounded on a marine-protected area and environmentalists say the damage to the reef is likely to be extensive.

Authorities say the owner of the ship will attempt to use tug boats to pull the ship off the reef, once the weather clears.

Source: abc.net.au