14 May 2014

Tension at Vale plant in New Caledonia

1:40 pm on 14 May 2014

There is rising tension at the Vale nickel processing plant in New Caledonia as people continue to protest amid calls for it to be permanently closed.

Operations have been suspended at the Goro plant for a week after 100,000 litres of effluent, containing some acid, ended up in a creek because of human error.

It is the fifth spill in five years to have occured there.

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Photo: RNZ / Vale

Local media reports tyres are being burnt along the road near the plant's entrance, and anger is rising among residents.

The president of the Association for the Protection of Nature, Jean-Louis d'Auzon, says there was a meeting yesterday to discuss the issue.

"The chiefs fo the tribes in South Province and some people of the tribes ask that the plant be closed. They are fed up with the problems with this plant."

Jean-Louis d'Auzon says the government of the Southern Province, which is in charge of monitoring the plant, is yet to be set up properly after Sunday's election.

He says this will mean any decisions on the plant will be delayed.

If the plant were to close, 14,000 jobs could be at stake.

Neither Vale nor representatives of the provincial government, could be reached for comment.