Scientists argue over sea tailings

National, Normal

The National – Thursday, February 17, 2011

SCIENTIFIC explanation on the effects of the deep sea tailings placement (DSTP) by MCC-Ramu NiCo in Madang is continuing in the week-long trial with a panel of marine, ocean and environmental experts defending their findings.
Experts who had taken the stand included ecologist Dr Phil Shearman, environmental engineer Gavin Mudd, oceanographer Dr John Luick for the plaintiffs and Ian Hargraves, a consultant marine scientist and oceanographer for Ramu NiCo.
Since last week, arguments focused on whether or not:
lToxicology levels in the ocean could affect the marine life and coastal villages depending on the ocean currents;
lAn on-land disposal system would be viable, taking into account the added costs involved;
lThere was a prior system of monitoring in existence which could be relied and trusted on to ensure safe practices; and
lSedimentation from the slurry would cause destruction to marine life.
From the evidence provided, the court was told that the government-approved environmental plan 1999 had none of the diagrams drawn to scale giving a false impression.
It was also revealed that more assessment and data collation had to be carried out.
Department of Environment and Conservation secretary Dr Wari Iamo and his technical advisers would take the stand this morning.
National Court judge Justice David Cannings also refused to accept into evidence an affidavit filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by a Helmish Medaing.
The affidavit by Medaing of Tugyag village in the Rai Coast district addressed issues other than nuisance, which was the main issue raised by the plaintiffs.
Counsel Ian Molloy for Ramu NiCo and Davis Steven for the state objected to the use of the affidavit on the bases of relevance and further that the issues related to contempt proceedings arising from the DSTP case which would be prejudicial to Ramu NiCo and the other alleged contemnors.
Cannings upheld the reasons for the objections and rejected the affidavit.
Following the ruling, Tiffany Nonggorr for the plaintiffs withdrew two other similar affidavits filed by Louis Medaing Jnr and Gimal Baguga.
The plaintiffs’ two remaining landowner witnesses residing on Karkar Island did not make it to court yesterday.
The parties, however, agreed for the remaining witnesses to take the stand on Monday.
Ramu NiCo started giving evidence yesterday with the state to follow suit.
The trial is now into its second week.