The onging loading of bauxite ore in a Solomon Islands bay is ramping up environmental damage caused by an oil spill that threatens one of the world’s most unique coral atolls, local groups are warning.
Heavy fuel has been leaching into the southern waters of Rennell Island – renowned for its limestone formations, thick forest and Unesco heritage-protected lagoon – since the MV Solomon Trader cargo ship ran aground there more than a month ago.
The world’s largest raised coral atoll, Rennell is home to some 2,000 people – along with several distinctive animal and plant species.
“The ecosystem throughout Kangava Bay relies on the reef, and all of the reef’s problems – such as bauxite or oil contamination, and climate-related issues such as rising sea temperature and acidification – add together,” says Chris Bone, director of the environmental group Oceans Watch Solomon Islands.
“The oil appears to be spreading throughout the bay … where there is a circular current that tends to move things along.”