INTERNATIONAL journalists were banned from covering and entering the oil spill site and the wrecked MV Solomon Trader in Rennell Island, Wedesday.
Reliable sources told the Solomon Star that it was believed that orders to stop the journalists came from Honiara and few people on the ground on Rennell who are agents of Bintan Mining Company.
The international journalists are from New Zealand TV 3 who are currently covering the current oil spill effects in Rennell.
“RSIPF Team Leader on Rennell relayed the message through NDMO that they received instructions from Honiara that journalists from NZ and his cameraman got no permit to enter the wreckage site,” reliable source told this paper.
The MV Solomon Trader had been loading bauxite from a mine on the island in the days before Cyclone Oma pushed it aground on a coral reef, in the early hours of 5 February.
Our source told this paper that whilst the journalists should be allowed to do their work they also need to be aware of our country’s media regulation.
But according to the Government Communication Unit Director George Herming he denied having aware of this incident.
Herming however said that journalists can go anywhere unless they want to do video documentary then they have to seek permission from his office to be granted a permit pass.
According to our source international journalists from New Zealand and New York Times are currently in Rennell to cover the impact of the oil spill.
Another New Zealand journalist has left for Rennell on board MV Avaikimaine later yesterday evening.
This paper last night was unable contact the international journalists in Rennell for further comments on this matter.
The Solomon Star understands the caretaker government announced that the oil spill from a wrecked ship at the centre of an environmental disaster was already contained.
But at least five kilometres of reefs and coastline have been soiled with fuel oil and estimates of the cost of clean up range as high as $US50 million.
The ship’s charterer, bauxite mine operator Bintan Mining, claims that it bears no responsibility for the casualty, and its operations continue.
Caretaker Prime Minister Rick Hou, has threatened to “blacklist” the companies involved if they do not take on their responsibilities.
Meanwhile, specialist teams from the US and Australia are in the country helping with the salvage operation.
By ANDREW FANASIA