4 Dec 2017

French PM challenged over New Caledonia oil spill

10:21 am on 4 December 2017

The French prime minister Edouard Philippe has been challenged by New Caledonians concerned about maritime pollution after last month's break-up of a stranded container ship.

The Kea Trader has been leaking oil

The Kea Trader has been leaking oil Photo: Supplied

Mr Philippe, who visited Lifou in the Loyalty islands as part of his four-day official visit, was asked for help over the oil spillage which has led to a fishing and swimming ban in parts of the archipelago.

At a welcome ceremony for the French prime minister, residents delivered a bag of oil globules collected from the beaches.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe reacts after receiving a flower neklace during a welcoming ceremony at the Tiga chiefdom, on Tiga island on December 3, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Fred Payet

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe reacts after receiving a flower neklace during a welcoming ceremony at the Tiga chiefdom, on Tiga island, in the archipelago of the Loyalty Islands, during their visit to the French overseas territory of New Caledonia on December 3, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Fred Payet Photo: AFP or licensors

The ship, Kea Trader, ran onto a reef near Mare in July in circumstances which have not been explained.

Salvage efforts saw most of 782 tonnes of fuel on board being pumped out but when inclement weather broke up the ship last month, residual oil spilled into the sea and washed up on New Caledonia's eastern shores.

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