13 Feb 2012

PNG's Tumbi Quarry declared "unsafe" well before landslide

2:45 pm on 13 February 2012

It has emerged that the Tumbi quarry used by Exxon Mobil for its major Liquefied Natural Gas project in Papua New Guinea was declared unsafe early last year.

The quarry in Southern Highlands province is located at the top of a massive landslide which last month buried at least 25 people.

Johnny Blades reports:

"In its report into the landslide, PNG's National Disaster Committee identified heavy rainfall as the trigger for the disaster, only briefly mentioning the Tumbi quarry. However, last March, the quarry was declared unsafe by the project's Independent Environmental and Social Consultant, D'Appolonia SPA. The Consultant found that the contractors building the project's Komo airfield, for which the quarry was being used, were behind schedule. Added to this, aggregate for the airfield construction was in short supply and the project's risk assessment practices were found to be slipping after a mudslide occurred at the project's Hides Gas Conditioning Plant site in the same area in late 2010. The project's PNG operator, Esso Highlands, which was found to be exercising insufficient stewardship in this area of the project, denies claims by locals that explosives were used at the quarry. Esso says it stopped using the Tumbi quarry six months ago."