Elias Nanau | Post Courier | September 5, 2019
Head of the school of environmental science and geography at the University of Papua New Guinea, Professor Chalapan Kaluwin, says the government was forewarned about the impacts of toxic waste from the Ramu nickel mine likely to find its way to the sea.
He said this was during the development of the mine and while he was living overseas, as part of a group who did research on the oceans and likely environmental impacts on communities.
Prof Kaluwin told the national oceans forum yesterday in Port Moresby that their advice to the government was to dump waste at a valley inland.
“I was working for the Australians,” he said. “We were asked to look at the maritime aspect of it.”
He said the slurry would end up at the ocean “because it’s so close and we know the depth, we have done research on depth with Australians and Americans”.
“The document is still there,” he said.
“The science for this is that it’s a chronic zinc oxide that ended in the ocean and it’s toxic.”
Prof Kaluwin said because of the lack of capacity by the government or compelling interest in earning money, their advice was ignored.
“They were more interested in money but not protecting the seas; not protecting the long-term sustainability of people living in Madang and along the coast,” he said.
“We did research all the way from Milne Bay to Madang… all the way to Indonesia… we knew the currents – how it was acting.
“There’s some fine particles that can be swinging in and out of Madang.”
Prof Kaluwin, who has been vocal in opposing the Solwara 1 project in New Ireland, warned mining in the Central Province could face a similar tragedy.
He said the country must be reminded that if “we considered technology, we should be able to know how to use it”.
“Science tells you that you bring in a new technology until you test it,” he said, describing the Solwara 1 undersea mining project as dangerous and an attempt to use PNG as a guinea pig to test technology.