Bulolo MP Sam Basil has criticised the Department of Environment and Conservation for failing to properly regulate the mining industry in Papua New Guinea and ensure its operations are environmentally-safe.
"DEC has a responsibility on behalf of the nation to ensure that mining operations are safe and will not damage the environment,” he said.
“Yet time and again the mines end up causing massive pollution problems while DEC sits by and watches."
With pollution from Bougainville, Ok Tedi, Misima, Pogera mines and recently the Hidden Valley Project Mr Basil now confirms that PNG government through DEC is now telling the world that mining with pollution in PNG is normal business practice so all environmental cowboy are welcome to come and dig.
Mr Basil has recently filed legal proceedings against the
"It is not good enough for Environment Minister Benny Allen to say DEC received an environmental audit report on the
“If the minister is serious about re-inventing another environmental improvement plan to supersede the failed plan, then the shut down mine and a complete river rehabilitation option must be his priority.
“The guns-for-hire environmental consultants will just report what DEC wants them to say to water down situation and we will not buy that cheaply.
“They must remember that the Bougainville and Ok Tedi days are long gone and we will not repeat the same mistakes and be fooled again.
“If the Minister's sponsored audit report says the river is safe then I’m willing to invite the minister and his DEC secretary to consume a litre of water each collected from the
“If they are not prepared to prove any report by consuming water from Watut then I am cautioning the minister in advance to be very careful about pushing report that he himself does not understand.
"Where is the report?
“Why have I not been given a copy?
“Why don't the landowners who are suffering the impacts of the pollution have a copy? “Is DEC trying to cover up things for the mining company?
“The report should be released immediately."
Mr. Basil says that the DEC should explain why it has given the
“It can only prove that DEC doesn't know what they are approving and must be held liable together with the operator should any litigation takes place against the mining company for lying to the government and DEC for professional negligence to the people of PNG,” he said.
“The current pollution in the Watut river system without DEC noticing anything wrong until recently is very bad for the future of the mining industry and the development of the up-and-coming Wafi Golpu project in his electorate.
“DEC only acts when the community mobilises and with this court action we are going all the way to make DEC and MMJV accountable to the people of Watut and the nation.
“The same goes to the approval of the deep-sea mining permit that has recently been granted by DEC.
“It must be stopped at all costs until a thorough investigation by scientists is sought.
“The National Fisheries Authority (NFA) must also be involved in that matter because the impact on our tuna stocks and its breeding ground is still not yet known and will be a threat to our growing tuna industry.
"DEC like MRA is supposed to be protecting landowners, their resources and the environment, not facilitating mining on the cheap.”
Mr Basil says he has instructed his lawyers to look into whether DEC and the Minister could be legally held liable for the damage the mine has caused.
He also suggested that in the future it would be good to have Ministers appointed to their ministerial portfolios only if their electorate plays host to such projects.
“Ministers from un-impacted areas which has no mine and pollution will simply make the ministers be just another rubber stamp which we are currently experiencing in PNG,” he said.
“That is why we see endless writers writing to the view column of the dailies showing their endless frustrations against many unpopular decisions of departmental heads and their ministers.”
Mr Basil also assures the public that when government changes” the new government will give priority to replace complacent and incompetent department secretaries and overhaul departments to honestly operate to protect the Independent State of Papua New Guinea and its people”.