The Hong Kong-registered MV Solomon Trader ran aground a month ago while loading bauxite and has spilled more than 80 tonnes of toxic fuel oil into the pristine waters of the remote island.
Seventeen years ago, as the then Greek-registered Doric Chariot, the same vessel was hauling coal from Mackay to India when it ran aground on Piper Reef in the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef north of Cairns.
No oil was spilled and the ship was refloated after a week.
An official investigation found the pilot fell asleep, leading to the ship straying off course and crushing 1500 square meters of coral before it came to a halt on the reef in Far North Queensland.
The ship owner was fined $100,000, a crew member fined $10,000 and the pilot lost his licence.
After changing owners and its name four times, the 25-year-old MV Solomon Trader was loading bauxite bound for China when it ran aground four weeks ago during tropical cyclone Oma.
Last week, the company issued a "sincere apology" to the Solomon Islands, admitted the situation was "totally unacceptable" but added "matters of liability are yet to be determined".
The MV Solomon Trader has reportedly continued to leak oil (as much as 75 to 80 tonnes) and contaminate pristine reef areas. The ship is carrying 600 tonnes of fuel oil.
The Guardian reported that Solomon Islands government had sought urgent help from Australia to deal with the environmental disaster because of frustrations at the slow progress in dealing with the spill.