19 Apr 2016

Solomons health authorities reiterate ban on using rivers

3:17 pm on 19 April 2016

Health authorities in Solomon Islands are continuing to warn villagers downstream of the Gold Ridge Mine tailings dam to not use rivers and streams for drinking, cooking, bathing or washing.

The over-full tailings dam facility at the Gold Ridge Gold Mine on Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands. January 2015

The tailings dam at Gold Ridge Mine. Photo: copyright Dr Matthew Allen - Australian National University

The reminder comes after assurances from the ministry of environment that a spill-over at the mine tailings dam caused by heavy rains in Guadalcanal last month has been brought under control.

The undersecretary for health improvement said although the spill-over has stopped, random testing in rivers and streams in the area are still showing traces of arsenic.

Christian Becha said the ministry believes a precautionary approach is the best way to protect communities.

"Because we have evidence, that we test that there is a level of chemicals, knowing fully well that there is a treated, there is a untreated and there is spillage," he said.

"So there are three sources of contamination to the environment and also the downstream. So that is why I have to intervene."

Dr Becha said the local hospital and health clinics in surrounding villages were monitoring the situation closely.

He said so far there have been no confirmed cases of illnesses directly or indirectly related to metal poisioning.

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