By ROSALYN EVARA, Post Courier
WHILE there are mechanisms in place to monitor the proposed deep sea tailing placement system, there is nothing in place to monitor discharge that is being allowed to flow freely into the Ramu River system.
This was one of the many admissions made by the officers from the Department of Environment and Conservation during a day-long awareness meeting on the DSTP which was conducted in Madang last week.
The issue of the “free-flow” into the Ramu River was raised during the meeting by former chairman of the Kurumbukari Landowner Association Toby Barre.
Mr Barre said he understood a lot of soil erosion had taken place and what was of concern was the effect, if any, this was going to have on the river system, especially as a lot of this was a result of the blasting exercise which had been conducted using explosives.
“The blasting exercise involved the use of explosives which we know contains chemicals. Our concerns are that a lot of these chemicals may now be in the river system.
“If so we have a lot of people who depend on the river system for their sustenance and livelihood. Has your office started monitoring this? If it hasn’t how does it intend on going about this exercise?” he asked.
DEC acting executive director of the environmental protection wing Michael Wau admitted that the department had not done enough to monitor discharge into the river system.
He said one of the reasons why this had been allowed was manpower shortage.
Mr Wau said these responsibilities lay with the project developer to monitor these discharges and to report back to them what was happening on the ground.
Mr Barre accused the Government of failing in its responsibility again in that it did not have a policy established to address this problem. “You can’t allow damage to occur, then fix the problem later. The people’s lives depend on the decisions you make today.”
The meeting heard that several landowners living along the Ramu River were seeking to take out an injunction to prevent damage to the river system.
Middle Ramu MP and Fisheries Minister Ben Semri who was at the meeting raised his concerns on the mine impact on the Ramu River.
“I am concerned about the impact on the Ramu River and how my people will suffer but this is a government project and I will support it,” he said.