7 Dec 2010

PNG panel set up over Watut river pollution

3:53 pm on 7 December 2010

An advisory panel is being set up in Papua New Guinea after protest action alleging environment destruction by a major gold mining operation in Morobe Province.

The NGO Act Now says it began a campaign to raise awareness over pollution of the Watut River system by the Hidden Valley Joint Venture after being approached by concerned landowner groups.

The local MP, Sam Basil, had raised similar concerns.

The company and the MP have agreed to set up an expert technical advisory panel to review sediment and pollution issues affecting the river.

Act Now had launched an email campaign against Hidden Valley last week and its spokesperson Effrey Dademo says the company has previously refused to acknowledge the river was polluted.

"They have now acknowledged that there's slightly higher sedimentation of the river than they had initially said it was and they have actually stated they are taking remedial action immediately in consultation with the local member [Mr Basil]. So we have not foregone the email action. We are actually now trying to make sure that they keep to their word."