By Eric Haurupma – EM TV News, Port Moresby
Kairuku-Hiri MP, Peter Isoaimo, is concerned about the severity of Tolukuma Mine tailings being discharged into the Apanaipi River.
This follows recent medical reports confirming the possibility of mine tailings being found in the rivers.
Isoaimo urged the developer and concerned government departments to take a bold stand in addressing this issue.
Apainapi River is the main lifeline for the people of the West Mekeo villages of Imbonga, Gnagnaifua and Inauwaniu villages of Kairiku Hiri District of Central Province.
For the past 30 years the river has been contaminated by the tailings from the Tolukuma Mine.
And for 25 years, the colour of the river was a cloudy white, milky colour.
Now the Apainapi River has gone back to being crystal clear with pebbles visible on the riverbed.
It was only after the temporary closure of the Tolukuma Mine early this year.
When the mine resumed operation back in 1995, people began to experience the impacts of the mine, which was causing major destruction to the environment.
Locals in the area have been affected by continuous flooding with homes and food gardens destroyed, animals killed and local people developing diseases that were previously unknown to the area.
A medical report compiled by Dr. Sylvester Kotapo and Allan Tingei of Oxfam Australia confirmed particles of chemical waste were found in human blood streams.
Isoaimo said this situation may be similar to the Minamata incident in Japan which led to the closure of a, mine in 1953 after medical reports confirmed people developed mercury diseases.
“It would be a clear act of genocide if the medical report proves that people have developed diseases from using the river,” he said.
Mekeo villager George Maino, said that the rainy season now brings with it flood hazards.
They are now calling on the government, especially the Environment Department to confirm reports put up by these medical experts to tell people if the river is safe for drinking.