By MALUM NALU
Morobe Mining Joint Ventures has denied any knowledge of the fish deaths in the Markham River of Morobe province last week.
This follows local villagers discovering dead fish and eels floating on the Markham River and demanding an investigation from relevant authorities.
Affected communities are from Wampit, Oomsis, Potsie, Markham Bridge and three Labu villages.
Bulolo MP and National Planning Minister, Sam Basil, also refused to jump the gun at the weekend and start blaming MMJV.
David Wissink, general manager - sustainability and external relations with MMJV, said last Friday that officers from Department of Environment and Conservation and Mineral Resources Authority would visit the site last Saturday.
“It is not known what has caused the fish deaths, however, such occurrences are a well-documented phenomenon throughout the world and are usually caused by depletion in dissolved oxygen in the water,” he said.
“The greatest impact on the river system in the area at the moment is the Kumalu mudslide where cubic kilometres of sediment have entered the river system due to the heavy rain.
“The Hidden Valley mine was alerted Wednesday (Feb 15) by locals from Chiatz village near the confluence of the Watut and Markham Rivers of approximately 500 dead fish and prawns.
“This location is 162km downstream from the mine site.
“The HVJV environment team has contacted the DEC about the incident but there is nothing that would point to the mine’s involvement in this matter.
“The mine has agreed to provide environmental support to help identify the cause.
“The quality of the water discharged from the Hidden Valley mine operations is monitored on a daily basis and is reported to the DEC weekly and monthly.
“There are no abnormalities in the Hidden Valley water quality data as it is well within compliance parameters.”
Basil agreed with Wissink when contacted last weekend.
“We have many activities happening upstream like large and small-scale mining, PNG Forest Products’ treatment of timber using preservatives, Kumalu River sedimentation and the recently-dynamited pool of Patep-Munanung (by PNG Defence Force),” he said.
“I would wait for the recently-dispatched environmental scientists from the Department of Environment and Conservation to announce their findings first before I as a politician make any comments.
“I have learnt my lessons the hard way, dealing with environmental pollution, that we have to be 110% correct in our claims.
“The environment team are the right people to comment on what are the causes of the dead aquatic animals.
“I will say something after their feedback.
“I believe they should do their job without anybody behind their backs so we all wait and see.”