Elias Nanau | Post Courier | October 10, 2019
An expert engaged by the Madang Provincial Government to investigate possible environmental and health issues associated with the operation of the Ramu Nickel Mine says it’s a “catastrophe.”
Dr Alex Mojon who has done environment impact and assessment studies in Africa, Europe, Asia including China for over 30 years was with Madang Governor Peter Yama yesterday when he made the statement.
A report is expected to be published in less than a week, with two investigations already being carried out by Dr. Mojon collaborating with other scientists. One was carried out before the slurry spill occurred and another recently after the spill of an estimated 200,000 cubic metres of waste turning the sea red.
Mr Yama said his government decided to engage what he described as “impartial experts” because he alleged that the office of the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) has been compromised and the veracity of their report has to be tested.
“The company has a strong influence on the report,” he said.
Mr Yama was irate and stressed that fishery lives were being affected as far as the borders of Morobe and the Karkar, Long and Bagabag islands northwest of Basamuk.
“One or two people have died,” he said, despite assertions to the contrary by a local health worker in the area and supported by the miner MCC.
“One of my ward councilors of Astrolabe Bay is at the intensive care unit.”
He said he became ill after eating contaminated fish,” Yama said.
Dr Mojen believes evidence strongly point at contamination being the cause of a number of medical conditions.
This included deformity in babies born around the vicinity, saying his investigations focused on the Kurumbukari mine and tracked the pipeline to Basamuk Deep Sea Tailing Disposal set up less than 500 meters from the sea, he interviewed villagers and flew to areas as far as Karkar.
“I was shocked,” he said. “We found it to be a catastrophe. There is evidence that Ramu Nickel Mine is not managing waste well.”
According to him, the samples were tested at a laboratory in Munich, Italy.
An irate Mr Yama said yesterday he would protest by not attending Parliament sessions and he will demand Prime Minister James Marape to intervene.
“We can’t gamble with the lives of the people,” he said firmly.
He said based on financial reports, the Mine has made K27 billion since its operations and the Madang Provincial Government received only K5 million.
Mr Yama said the Kurumbukari mine is on tax holiday.
According to Mr Yama, Lomai and Attorney has been engaged to act swiftly based on additional credible evidence before it to file a lawsuit on environmental issues and an Australian QC is likely to be involved.
Mr Yama’ stance yesterday was; “We will go for the closure of the mine.”