by Rachael Shisei – EM TV News, Madang
Following a slurry spill on Wednesday of last week, concerned locals around Usino Bundi are concerned the spill has seeped into the water they use for drinking and cooking.
What frightened them the most is that the creek where the burst happened is near a river.
“More than 3,000 of us are living from this water source, this creek which flows into the BK river, which in turn flows into the Ramu River and then out to sea,” the Usino Bundi LLG Ward 7 Councillor, Moses Kuruwara said.
Locals said they raised the alarm and warned mine officials of the leakages from the 135km pipeline on Sunday, of the previous weekend.
No immediate action was taken until it burst on Wednesday last week. The people are now worried for their safety.
They are now questioning the ability of the company to respond adequately to such environmental emergencies, and are calling for an independent body to determine if the rivers are safe.
“I don’t believe that the mine’s monitoring system is effective because the matter was reported on Sunday but they said it wasn’t serious. Two days after, the pipe bursts, spilling the slurry,” John Koti, a frustrated villager pointed out.
Madang Provincial Disaster Coordinator, Rudolph Mongalee, made a similar pitch, stating that the mine has to take responsibility and address the situation immediately.
“The MCC management must look into this situation seriously and support the community affected by the explosion of the pipeline, especially with the acid thrown out the lives of the community will be affected.
“If they (mine’s management) have any queries they can come to the Provincial Disaster Office and we can help them coordinate and find solutions to assist the affected communities,” Mongalee said.