Thousands of litres of waste water containing cyanide and arsenic could be released into Solomon Islands' Matepona River as early as next week.
A government licence to dump waste from the Gold Ridge mine tailings dam on Guadalcanal is in its final stages of approval.
The Director of the Ministry of Environment and Conservation, Joe Horokua, says the water is threatening to breach the dam after recent heavy rains and that's forced the drastic action.
Mr Horokua says government has held several meetings with the local landowning company, Gold Ridge Community Investment, about the proposal to release 540 thousand cubic metres of water, and a license that has been prepared is awaiting final approval.
At the same time the government has declared a state of disaster because of the flood and environmental threat to thousands of communities downstream.
The gold mine was sold to local landowners in April this year by its Australian owners St Barbara a year after flash flooding forced the mine's closure.
St Barbara had repeatedly tried to release the water in a controlled way but its attempts were opposed by the government and local communities who wanted it treated before release.
A World Health Organisation report on the water quality has declared it safe for controlled discharge in small amounts, however the sediment at the bottom of the tailings dam contains highly toxic concentrations of cyanide and arsenic which could be released in the event of a dam breach.