PNG's Madang waters now safe for swimming - Govt

1:39 pm on 23 October 2019

Coastal waters in Papua New Guinea's Madang province are now safe for swimming despite a recent spill of mine slurry, PNG's Environment Minister says.

Basamuk Bay

Basamuk Bay Photo: Facebook/ Elisha Wesley Mizeu

In August, 200,000 litres of 'toxic slurry spill' from the Ramu Nickel Mine's refinery turned the sea red and was linked by locals to numerous health problems.

A new report into the spill by PNG's Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority found heavy metal contamination within the local waters is within acceptable levels.

The minister, Geoffrey Kama, said most of the spillage was subsequently contained, and that everything is back to normal for swimming and recreation in the waters.

However, he said people should refrain from eating fish for another month or so, pending further testing of fish samples.

It's unwelcome news for many local families who rely on fishing for food and income.

Prime Minister James Marape has told Parliament there will be a new independent report into the spill.

A recent report by an international team led by Swedish scientist Alex Mojon and commissioned by Madang's provincial government pointed to a catastrophic impact caused by waste from the Ramu mine on the marine environment.

At the start of the month, Madang province temporarily banned sale and consumption of fish, following the reported death of a Basamuk Bay man after he ate poisoned fish.