17 Aug 2004

Official probes PNG dead fish incident

6:36 am on 17 August 2004

The Papua New Guinea Government has called for calm as it investigates the cause of the "dead fish" surfacing from the deep sea near underwater tailings disposal lines in a recently de-commissioned mine.

The Environment and Conservation Minister William Duma has made the call to Misima islanders located in the Solomon Sea that borders Solomon Islands where Placer Dome Resources had been mining gold.

Mr Duma says a technical officer was sent last Wednesday to check out reports that 35 dead fish - red emperor, tuna and cod had surfaced near the tailings line of Misima Mines worked by Placer Domer Resources.

This dead fish surfaced after the second of two final flushing on the remaining sodium cyanide, mixed with 450 cubic metres per hour of seawater, was discharged nearly two weeks ago.

Mr Duma says the incident occurred near the sea of the now-closed Misima Mine which has been dismantling equipment and continuing mine rehabilitation.

But he's urged the people around the mine area not to guess the cause of the incident until the appropriate analysis of samples and investigations in the area has been completed.

Samples would be taken for analysis from the eastern part of the country where the mine is located to PNG's main industrial city of Lae.

It might take up to two weeks before results are known.

Meanwhile consumption of dead fish and other fish in the area has been stopped until further information about the impact is known.