Malum Nalu | The National aka The Loggers Times
THE Fly River in Western “is gone” as a result of the massive damage to the environment caused by mining over the years, according to Environment and Conservation Minister John Pundari.
He told Parliament yesterday that there was no point in putting up a tailing dam (to withhold the waste) now because the damage to the river by the Ok Tedi Mining Limited “cannot be undone”.
“What difference will it make when we have the damage already? The Fly River system is gone. The livelihood of our people, if any, is gone,” he said.
“We’ve lost it. If we have to build a dam today, just to tell the world and show the world, and tell ourselves that we are doing the right thing for ourselves, and for our future generations, I don’t know what the tailings dam will do.
“What will this tailings dam save?”
He was contributing to the debate on the Eminent Persons Group report tabled by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
The group was set up by the National Executive Council to mediate and facilitate an agreement between the State, PNGSDP, BHP Billiton and OTML after differences over the impact of mining on the communities in Western.
“It will take 50 to 100 years for natural occurrences to help rehabilitate it (Fly River). That is a long time,” Pundari said.
North Fly MP Boka Kondra said the people had suffered greatly because of the Ok Tedi mining operation. In a lengthy and emotional address, he told of the plight of his people, who had silently been suffering from various ailments as a direct result of mine pollution on Fly River.
“People are dying, mothers are dying, children are dying, with not much benefits (from the mine),” Kondra said.
“I brought in a media team from Japan and they went to a village where they found 17 deformed children. When this was shown in Japan, millions of people there were in tears. Look at how many people are dying along the river.”
Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather said it was ironic for the Government to continue operating the Ok Tedi mine after the huge damage to the Fly River by previous operator BHP Billiton.
One response to “Fly River ‘gone’”
How could Pundari and other parliamentarians declare that there is irreversible damage done to the Fly River and surrounding environment while at the same time, not close the mine? If you know the damage is done, leaders, you have a duty of care to stop this mine now. Why keep pointing fingers at BHP when you have the mandate now to shut this operation down and put whatever funds have been created into good use for the already sick Fly and Ok Tedi people? Babies in the Tabubil hospital are being born with teeth already forming and other complications. Just ask landowner mother and OTML employee Mathilda Nori how many times she lost her baby before she decided to go to Cairns to have her baby safely. Something is really wrong with the environment. Apply the Erin Brochovich story to Ok Tedi and you see the similarities. Shame on your government and OTML board and management you greedy men with fat guts! You have blood on your hands as by keeping that mine open you are murdering the people.