The Australian Maritime Safety Authority says more than 600 tonnes of fuel remains on board a ship that is leaking oil into the ocean in Solomon Islands.
Three weeks ago the bulk carrier MV Solomon Trader ran aground on a reef at Lavangu Bay in East Rennell, while trying to load bauxite from a foreign owned mine on the island.
A team from the Australian authority, which is assisting the Solomon Islands, conducted an aerial survey over the weekend and confirmed oil has been spilling from the ship and has begun to spread to the surrounding sea and shoreline, contaminating the ecologically delicate area.
It estimates up to 60 tonnes of fresh heavy fuel oil has been spilled so far with more than 600 tonnes still onboard the stricken vessel, which could continue to leak.
The Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands Rod Brazier said they are extremely concerned at the scale of the disaster and the devastating impact it will have on the surrounding environment.
"As a close partner of Solomon Islands, Australia is exploring all options to assist the Solomon Islands Government to hold the responsible company, owners and insurers to account for this maritime incident," Rod Brazier said.
"We are very concerned about the circumstances that have led to this disaster. Our friends in the Pacific, including the Solomon Islands Government, do not tolerate reckless behaviour by companies."