14 Apr 2009

New Caledonia govt plans laying charges against Vale Inco over acid leak

8:11 pm on 14 April 2009

The New Caledonian government is planning to lay charges against the Vale Inco nickel company and the southern province following a massive acid spill.

The leak which killed thousands of fish in the North Bay river and affected the World Heritage protected Prony Bay happened earlier this month during a test run of the new facility.

80 percent of the plant's activity will be stopped until an investigation into the incident is completed.

Our correspondent, Claudine Wery, says the territory's president, Harold Martin, is outraged about the accident believed to have been caused by a breach of procedures.

"A report dating from 2006 mentioned the risk of accidents. And the government says that the Southern Province didn't take that report into account. So that's why the president of the government is laying charges against the Southern Province. But this action must be understood in the context of provincial elections in May, because Mr Martin and Mr Gomes are rivals."

DUR: 26

Claudine Wery