By Dr Sylvester Kotapu
Despite the successive governments been informed for over decades of the gross irreversible damages to the pristine environment and people from exposure to mine tailings/waste nothing is yet done to date. Blind eyes are to the gross negative health & environmental effects faced by the riverine communities of Jaba River of ARB, Strickland and Fly River of Western, the Auga-Angabanga of Central and the soon-to-be- the Freida-Sepik Rivers of ESP.
Because PNG is one of the ONLY two countries in the world allowing mining companies to practise the out-lawed method of discharging mine waste into Natural River Bodies- rivers, lakes, sea etc the pristine environment and the riverine communities are condemned to suffer the dreadful consequences- doomed. Ok Tedi, BCL, Pogera, Tolokuma, Misima, Lihir (and the soon to be Freida) maintained direct dumping of the mine waste into the rivers and the seas. Present day mine waste management systems enforce Terrestrial Containments (land based dams) and in PNG where so many mines are operational there is no such method of practise.
I make special reference to the Great Sepik River whilst it only has a life-span of few months left before it is biologically dead and permanently destroyed should the Freida is allowed to use the river dumping of mine waste. I call on all great Sepiks to at least form a forum to put forward the facts and see if the Sepik River worth protecting or preserving. Through the National Fisheries Authority under Mr. Sylvester Pokajam, the baseline heavy metals and Persistently Occurring pollutants(POP) information on the sediments, fish, crustaceans and water for the river and lakes- Murik and Chambri are been done which can be the basis for monitoring the impacts however insufficient.
The Great Sepik is also under serious threat from the insecticides and pesticides and all other carcinogenic hydrocarbons arising from the huge hectares of Palm Oil Industry. So this really desperately warrants a forum for information dissemination to minimize the negative chemical pollution to the local ecosystems and the rural people.