Locals to shut Hagen’s waste plant

Highlands, Normal

The National, Wednesday, June 8th 2011

LOCALS living near Mt Hagen city’s main sewage treatment plant are threatening to shut it indefinitely if a nine-point petition is not dealt with within 21 days.
They have called on the government to re-develop the plant to world standard or relocate it.
The Komkui people claim to be badly affected by the stench and waste overflow from the three treatment ponds deposited on their dry land.
They said the waste overflow had polluted the Kum River as well.
They gave a 21-day ultimatum from last Saturday when they presented the petition to Western Highlands Governor Tom Olga.
Olga accepted the petition on behalf of the government during a gathering held near the treatment plant site.
The locals called on the government through Water PNG to upgrade and modify sewage treatment plant to world standard and pay compensation to the sub-clans living around the treatment plant.
They said if the government could not meet their first demand they wanted the sewage plant to be relocated to another uninhabited site and to pay compensation to the people living near the area.
The landowners said if the government did not give them a positive response they would close the plant until their demands were met.
They said alternatively they were considering suing the state for damages and suffering.
The Komkui people said since the treatment plant became operational in 1986, it had not had a modern chlorinated plant, air compressor and disinfectant chemicals to eradicate the stench and contaminated waste flow into the Kum River system.
The locals said they had suffered the stink daily and, sometimes during heavy rain, the flooded Kum River washed away waste from the ponds and deposited it on their land and polluted the river system.
They said they had spoken with Water PNG many times to address the problem but nothing had been done.
Olga said he would take the petition to the National Executive Council and return with answers on June 25.