RAMU NiCo’s slurry spillage into the sea at Basamuk Refinery site in Madangs’ Rai Coast on Aug 24 has affected the lives of many coastal people and Madang, as well as interests of stakeholders.
It is no longer an environmental issue, but is now a socio-economic issue for Madang.
There have been incidents of dead fish and marine lives evident in the seas of coastal villages of Rai Coast recently following the slurry spillage.
Villagers living along the coastal area of Rai Coast have reported certain dead fish and marine lives from the sea from August to October.
The dead fish included a dolphin, a shark and a number of tuna mackerels as well as other marine species.
There have also been incidents of people dying from eating fish caught from the sea in Rai Coast in the following months after the slurry spillage.
The Madang Provincial Administration has imposed a ban on fish sales and markets in Madang. The people from Rai Coast have not gone out fishing since after spillage.
The spillage has greatly affected the lives of people living in Rai Coast and Madang who rely on fish for food and income.
The slurry spillage has affected the economic activities of RD Tuna Canners Ltd (RD Tuna).
On the same note, the spillage has also affected the economic interest of potential investors in Madang for the long-run, such as the multi-billion Kina Pacific Maritime Industrial Zone (PMIZ) project.
The PMIZ has a plan to set a number of tuna factories upon its establishment in Madang.
The spillage has already weighed down the investors’ economic interest for the PMIZ.
The Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority (Cepa) has recently provided an inconclusive report on the slurry spillage.
I, therefore, call on Cepa to complete its investigations and do a proper and conclusive report on the slurry spillage, particularly on the marine lives as well, as soon as possible.
I also call on non-governmental organisations to help conduct an independent investigation into the slurry spillage on the sea as well as the marine lives in the spillage area and furnish a report on whether the spillage is toxic or otherwise.
Such would instil confidence in the people living along the coastline of Rai Coast and Madang as well as the economic interests of RD Tuna and potential investors of the PMIZ.
I further call on Cepa to suspend the environmental permit for the Deep Sea Tailing Placement (DSTP) issued to Ramu NiCo, and together with the Department of Mining, suspend operations of Ramu NiCo pending release of the complete and conclusive investigation reports into the slurry spillage by Cepa and an independent organisation.
(Lawyer from Rai Coast)