YAMA HITS BACK AT MORI
By Peter Yama, 17 November 2019
PNG Political Limelights
I have read and watched with frustration the news and articles released or published by the newly appointed Environment and Conservation Minister Hon. Wera Mori relating to the Ramu Nickel Mine environmental Reports published by Dr. Alex Mojon. I therefore I wish to respond to him as follows:.
I like to remind the Minister that Madang Provincial Government as a constitutional Government is collectively responsible and answerable the people of Madang Province and it is my considered opinion that my Government must act on the Basamuk disaster if Waigani fail to react to this emergency quickly as they did for the Highlands earthquake. We may not see landslides and buried villages, but we have reports that people have died, fish have died and contamination is rampant in and around the Basamuk bay where the plant is situated.
If this continues to spread, the whole coastal region of Madang will die a slow death and my people will suffer like the people in the OK Tedi. At least they have a future fund, we have nothing. All the coastal development we have planned, the fish farms, the prawn farms, the tuna industry will now be in danger of being destroyed.
Where is the emergency funding to help my people live through this uncertain period? Where is the emergency committee to do something to alleviate the sufferings of my people? Southern Highlands got K600 million… AS USUAL MADANG GOT NOTHING. THIS IS NOT FAIR.
Where is the emergency assessment team? Where are the international aids? Where are the Ministers to visit and comfort my people?
The disaster affected us directly and we have to live with it, whereas the bureaucrats in Waigani, sitting in their air condition offices taking their time while my people may be dying… they can never appreciate the extent my people are suffering as a result of this mine.
The issue concerning environment within and around the Ramu Nickel Mine is very sensitive and requires immediate attention. People may be dying now, and in the future if we do not attend to this problem as soon as possible. We cannot sit and wait for Waigani to move, we must take precautions now. Whichever way you look at it we have an emergency of disastrous proportion.
When the Ramu Nickel Mine Mining Development Contract (MDC) was signed in 2000, the provision for the National Government through CEPA to establish an Environment Committee, gave the responsibility to CEPA to ensure that such Committee is there to monitor and receive environmental updates and reports from MCC every quarter. That has not been done. Had this been done, all this may have been avoided. CEPA and MCC has repeatedly breached their responsibility to MDC from day 1 since 2000. A simple arithmetic calculation indicated that both entities failed 76 times to update and submit their environmental reports to-date.
The reason why such monitoring was required because they knew it can be an ENVIRONMENTAL ATOMIC TIME BOMB, and yet no effort was made to comply. Why? What was the excuse? Was this matter of costs or were there other sinister reasons? After all, if the environmental atomic bomb explodes, hundreds of thousands of people in my province will become the living dead, deprived of their food source, deprived of their income and deprived a future for themselves, their children and generations to come.
The now expired Revised MOA also provided similar provision for the engagement of Environment Committee. However, this has been breached as well.
I understand Hon. Wera Mori was newly appointed and from the media release thru Tvwan that he made on Friday 15 November, it appears that the Minister has not been advised properly on Ramu Nickel Environmental issue or if he has been advised, he was ill advised. It appears that the Minister may have been deceived by his people for their own interest or the interest of unknown parties but certainly the response by Waigani was not in the interests of my people.
I quote him saying in the media that there may be other motives. What motives is he talking about? I, as the Governor of this province, fighting for rights of my people.?
Given the seriousness of the situation, shouldn’t Waigani work with Madang Provincial Government, rather than accusing us of spreading untruths?
What have we to gain from it?
We are all Papua New Guineans, are we not?
What if a disaster happened in his province?
And the Government took their time to address the problem while his people are dying, the fish they depend on are being poisoned, the uncertainty of whether it was safe to catch fish for their own consumption and for income. Will he sit and wait while the damages spreads and the people continue to suffer?
My people have been deprived of their source of food and their source of income and we find out what is going on and do something about it quickly. The longer Waigani takes, the more my people suffer.
Don’t forget that we all put this Government together, believing that it would be a new beginning of fair play, putting our differences aside so that the resource of our country is equitably distributed. So when are we going to be treated fairly?
Minister you must know that CEPA Report only covered spillage of slurry of the 24 August. This report is inconclusive in so far as investigations of the entire environmental issues on Ramu Nickel Mine as provided for in the MDC and MOA is concerned. The CEPA is a knee jerk response to the spillage and not the overall environment as envisaged in both said Agreements.
Further, the CEPA Report which covered the DSTP has not been made public by the previous Ministers, before you came on board. In that Report, CEPA concluded there has been some contamination caused by the discharge through DSTP, but it recommended further investigations, That is what they said! This is a very important fact that you as the new Minister must publish.
Your own chief scientist at CEPA admits that DSTP model may be flawed and not performing as it was designed to do. She admits that there are signs of contamination in the food source in the impact area.
Dr. Alex Mojon’s and his team of scientists produced a series of Reports. As it stands now, it has been conclusively demonstrated with strong evidence suggesting that upwelling is occurring before August 24th when the spill occurred.
The report cover the areas within and around the Ramu Nickel Mine and for another at least approximately 10 km radius of the Project Site. The investigation was thoroughly done, samples properly collected and sent to reputable laboratories oversea for analysis. On the strength of the analysis, Dr Mojon produced the reports.
For the Minister to suggest that Dr. Mojon’s Reports is baseless and untrue, is insulting to a professional environmental remediation scientist that has conducted many investigations all over the world. The Minister’s statement reflects a hostile attitude to my Province when all we wanted to do is to protect our people and their future. We are not over-reacting.
The Judge in the 2012 case says
“the environmental consequences may be catastrophic, causing irreparable damage to the ecology of Astrolabe Bay and other coastal waters, and seriously harming the lives and future of the plaintiffs and thousands of other coastal people in Madang Province. “
I don’t think I am over-reacting compared to what the judge concluded.
To disprove Dr Mojon reports, the Minister will need stronger credible evidence to the contrary, but I cannot understand why he call the reports untrue and baseless when he has yet to gather evidence to suggest that. Accusing Dr Mojon’s reports as baseless and untrue and damaging the reputation of the Marape Government is premature. All Dr Mojon did was to report on his findings.
The Marape Government and MCC should examine the evidence and see if the report is true before they start making accusations and acting in a hostile manner against innocent victims trying to protect their future.
Minister, what have you got against us that you so quickly condemn us? It would have been more responsible had the Government acted on the potential environment disaster as quickly as they did to denounce Dr Mojon’s reports.
Minister, show us the evidence to disprove Dr. Mojon’s Reports. The CEPA Reports produce to date will actually support our case in a legal proceeding. The Hon. Minister’s outburst and assertion is without foundation or merits. Every thinking PNG would agree that the Minister’s statement is a misjudgment at the highest level.
IF the matter ends up in court tomorrow, Tiffany will Win this case, don’t forget the case is still alive! The judgement concluded that nuisance was proven,
“The plaintiffs have marshalled a compelling body of scientific evidence that the Director of Environment has approved operation of a very risky activity that could have catastrophic consequences for the plaintiffs and the coastal people of Madang Province”
But because MCC has already spent so much money, he refused the injunction, but he has this to say;
“The more likely the harm is to occur and the greater its extent and seriousness if it does occur, the stronger is the case for an injunction to restrain the activity that will cause harm, …….Here there is a reasonable probability of harm”
“Needless to say, if these proceedings had been commenced much earlier, the result may well have been different.”
The Judge also left open future action when he held
5. (e) if environmental harm of the type reasonably apprehended by the plaintiffs does actually occur they will be able to commence fresh proceedings at short notice and seek the type of relief being denied them in these proceedings.
So, Minister, given the concerns of the Judge and the high probability of a catastrophe happening based on compelling scientific evidence of the past litigation, isn’t it an urgent matter to investigate if the harm is actually occurring? THIS IS A TIME BOMB, and it requires extremely urgent attention and immediate action to protect possible harm to my province.
MPG is fighting for the rights of our people, our children and our future generations to enjoy the blessings God has given us. What God gave to our people NO ONE has the right to destroy and deprived us of it. If the Government or the Minister wants to play politics and compromise the lives of Madang people with CEPA, MRA and MCC, you can rest assured that as a father, a Leader and a protector of this beautiful Province, I will fight to prevent a repeat of what the Government allowed to happen in Panguna, Ok Tedi and other sites.
God is a God of justice. I am prepared to fight to the End for a righteous cause so that God’s justice prevails, and men’s greed exposed.
I have stated many times that I am willing to work with CEPA, MRA, NFA, Health Dept, other independent consultants and MCC to ensure that the environmental issues affecting the people of Madang be given a top priority by Marape’s Government, We will assist in every way for this worthy cause, as we have done before, and will continue to do so, regardless of how long it will take.
I would appreciate it if the Marape Government acknowledge our rights and understand why we are behaving in this manner. WE ARE THE VICTIMS that the Government of PNG has a duty to protect, and our people are suffering whilst those in authority are taking their time to help my people.
Libelous and slanderous statements will not help in resolving the issues amicably but will only provoke hostile responses. Let us be more careful in releasing future communique to the media.
My apologies if I have offended the wrong people, but you must understand how frustrated I am with the response from those who represents the Government of Papua New Guinea. We are supposed to one people, one nation and yet the reality is that we are divided by possibly those who have taken our resources and playing with money power.
How can we TAKE BACK PNG when we cannot stand as one against outsiders that destroys our environment, take our resources, leaving us with pittance and an environmental headache for decades destroying our economy and our economic base and depriving our people, their children and future generations of the opportunities to harvest and farm the seas and prosper from the riches God has blessed us with.
WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THE LOSSES AND SUFFERINGS OF MY PEOPLE, NOW AND IN THE FUTURE?
Hon: Peter C Yama MP
Governor of Madang