CLAIM FOR OIL SPILL LODGED

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Oil spill on Rennell Island
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Gov’t seeks millions from ship’s insurer

By EDDIE OSIFELO

ATTORNEY General John Muria Junior has confirmed his office has submitted a claim that amounts to millions of dollars to insurer Korea Protection and Indemnity Club (KP&I) for the 2019 oil spill in Rennell and Bellona.

This was after the Government ratified the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (‘Bunkers Convention’) last year.

The accession to the Bunkers Convention was triggered by the grounding of Hong Kong based MV Solomon Trader in February 2019.

The bulk carrier spilled more than 300 tonnes of heavy fuel oil into Kagava Bay, Rennell Bellona Province, which is close to the World Heritage site at Lake Tengano.

“At the moment we are still waiting for their response.

“But we are very hopeful,” Muria Junior said.

A detailed environmental damage assessment commissioned by the Government on the Rennell Oil Spill has concluded that the grounding of the ship MV Solomon Trader and the subsequent oil spill caused significant ecological impacts and economic losses in the order of $112 million (US$14 million) to $304.6 million (US$38 million).

In the meantime, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), Dr Melchior Mataki confirmed Solomon Islands Maritime Authority (SIMA) is currently dealing with the insurer of the vessel discharged oil in Graciosa Bay, Temotu Province.

The Panama-flagged bulker, MV Quebec has been accused of deliberately discharging heavy fuel oil (HFO) into the pristine waters of Graciosa Bay on 20 January 2021.

The bulk carrier arrived to pick up logs for a Malaysian Xiang Lin Timber Company when it started discharging thick oil into the bay.

In early February last year, the government’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) sent a technical assessment team to the site.

An initial assessment showed that the 28,500-dwt bulk carrier spilled around 1,000 tonnes of HFO, reaching the second level of pollution.


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