18 Feb 2010

Vanuatu Environment Dep't director defends Blacksands Tuna Plant EIA process

4:30 pm on 18 February 2010

The director of Vanuatu's Environment Department, Albert Williams, has defended the robustness of the Environment Impact Assessment of the Blacksands Tuna Processing Plant in Port Vila.

Although the EIA is yet to be completed, the plant is close to becoming operational and Transparency Vanuatu is concerned that the report's recommendations may not be properly considered.

A government-recruited team is conducting the EIA assessment as well as public consultations with 20-thousand US dollars in funding from China.

While China and the Vanuatu government the two main parties behind the Plant project, Transparency suggests there is a conflict of interest.

But Mr Williams, who is directly involved in the EIA, says while it began a bit late, it is an objective process.

"When we submit the report, basically there will be an independent team to review the report that will be submitted to government for endorsement. And that independent team will be independent of me and basically I won't be in the committee that reviews the report."

Albert Williams