After weeks of debate surrounding the chemical spill at the Chinese owned Basamuk Nickel Refinery in Madang, the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) has ordered the company to shut down its operations.
The order was announced yesterday with the closure effective on Monday 21st of October.
In a statement released today, the MRA said The company was ordered to stop its operations because it has failed to comply with the authority’s recommendations and fix defects identified during the MRA’s investigations into the slurry spill in August.
“The defects identified during the investigations among others were as follows:
1. Incompetency of operators.
2. Inadequate bund capacity.
3. Inadequate spillage containment system.
4.Inadequate maintenance of instrumentation and machines among others.
“The resumption of operations will depend upon the successful completion of the remedial works.”
The MRA investigation found that “on 24th August, slurry from the surge tank overflowed during the process startup after a maintenance shutdown. Some of the slurry went into the two ponds that were built to cater for such events, however; some of it went into the sea.”
The MRA found that the spill was due to a digital process systems failure to start the pumps at the surge tank area.
The investigation also revealed several defects and recommendations were made to the company to have them fixed. Those recommendations were not complied with.
The spill prompted the Madang Provincial government to initiate its own investigations headed by Swiss scientist, Alex Mojon, whose initial findings showed that there were unacceptable levels of contamination in the Basamuk Bay.
Those findings have been refuted by the Ramu Nico company management saying the finding are not independent.
By Scott Waide, EMTV News, Lae