The National – Wednesday, June 29, 2011
By JUNIOR UKAHA
NORTH Fly MP Boka Kondra has called on the National Government to send an independent investigation team into his electorate to investigate the pyrite spillage caused by Ok Tedi Mining early this month.
Kondra said although the mine had done its own investigation into the spillage, the report it had produced may have “elements of bias” since the mine and its agents were directly responsible for the spillage.
Kondra said the Wai Tope and Wai Smare River, where the pyrite allegedly spilled, “is the lifeline of more than 50 villages living along the river banks”.
“Given the importance of the rivers to these villagers I want an independent body to investigate the matter,” he said.
“I am not satisfied with the report by the mine as they may cover up some wrongs.”
He said villagers affected by the situation had to venture elsewhere to get fresh water for cooking, drinking and washing.
Kondra said the villagers were scared to go out fishing because the fish could have been poisoned by the spillage.
He said under the MoA signed with Ok Tedi in the 1980s, tailings and other waste from the mine were supposed to be dumped in the Alice River and not the Wai Tope and Smare River.
Kondra said the mine was scheduled to wind-down operations by 2013, but he had heard talks that operations would be extended for a few more years.
He said if that was the case, a “new agreement” must be signed with the landowners addressing issues like proper contingency plans for environmental damage and greater local participation.
Kondra, who is a landowner himself, said without these considerations there would be no mining after 2013.