Officer urges bodies to fast-track processes on environmental issues
The National aka The Loggers Times
STATE agencies dealing with environmental issues from the Sinivit Mine in East New Britain are urged to fast-track processes and address them promptly as people’s lives were at risk.
Provincial environment and conservation officer Florence Paisparea, giving an update by a technical working committee on disasters in the province, said the provincial government was only waiting on State agencies such as the Department of Environment and Conservation and Mineral Resources Authority to carry out the next step to rectify chemical pollution from the abandoned mine.
These included detoxicating the contaminated Warangoi River and outflow at Ganai seafront in the Bitapaka LLG.
Paisparea said tests conducted recently on samples from the river system showed that the treatment pond for cyanide and other chemicals used at the mine contained 20 parts per million of chemicals, while the vats contained 20 parts per million as well.
She said this was “very high concentration.”
The permitted environmental safe content was five parts per million.
Paisparea emphasised that the public was not to use or go near the river until tests cleared it.
She appealed to national agencies responsible to fast-track processes required to get specialists in and also the neutralisers needed to detoxicate the chemicals that included cyanide and other metals like copper, mercury and zinc.
Pollution from the mine was blamed for dead eels and fish discovered along the river system.
That prompted officials to warn people to keep away from the river until tests were done.
Govt warns of possible spillage
EAST New Britain provincial administrator Akuila Tubal is warning people living near the Warangoi River not to eat dead fish, eels or any other form of life in the river.
Tubal, who is the chairman of the provincial disaster committee, is concerned with cyanide spillage from vats at the Sinivat Mine site that could have found its way into the river system.
A report by the provincial disaster technical team that had been working on the containment and awareness programme on the spillage said that down-flow of heavy rain water from the ranges where the mine was located had increased.
Tubal said the team was also asking people living both upstream and downstream not to use river water for drinking or washing until tests were carried done by Department of Environment and Conservation.
He urged fishermen not to fish in the Ganai area of the Bitapaka LLG or the mouth of the Warangoi River until further notice.
He appealed to the public to have proof of dead marine and aquatic life before making reports to the provincial disaster technical team.