Pollution, Death and Government Response
RD Tuna on the run ...
The fallout from the 26 April toxic spill in Madang
Lagoon has included death, injury and a Government inquiry.
Warning - this page contains pictures
that may be distressing
The foreign firm RD Tuna continues to cause turmoil for the Kananam
people. Workers from the Vidar wharf facility (on Kananam land) have now
been sacked because of their association with prominent Kananam activists.
These sacked workers are relatives of those in the Kananam community's Idawad
organisation, which is leading the campaign to get RD Tuna off their land
and out of PNG.
After what appears to have been an ammonia and oil spill from RD ship Dolores
829 (the ship shown behind Kananam school teacher, Francis Gem, on our home
page), a young Kananam woman was hospitalised, and a young boy became very
sick. Kananam leaders are also now investigating the death of a diver, who
was recovering fish near the Vidar facility, late last year (2002).
Ms Sabina Sarea (pictured below) was rushed to Alexishafen Hospital
after being affected by the 26 April toxic spill. She was placed on a drip
due to extreme dehydration, and suffered vomiting and diarrhea. Sabina's
father is now threatening to legal action against RD Tuna. Frankie Tuaken
(also pictured below) also suffered from vomiting and diarrhea, after
coming into contact with the heavily polluted water.
Prior to RD Tuna's arrival, and the establishment of the Vidar wharf facility,
the Doilon Harbour (in the northern part of the Madang Lagoon) was a pristine
environment, linking mangroves to clear lagoon and beautiful coral reef.
Toxic pollution at Vidar Wharf is now a prime suspect in the mysterious
death (in late 2002) of Mr Late Wong (his body is pictured below, after
its recovery), who was diving for fish disposed of from RD Tuna vessels,
just off the Vidar wharf
Local people have now also accused RD ships of involvement in illegal
shark finning operations, and therefore of further damage to the fragile
marine ecosystems around Madang Lagoon. A picture below shows shark fins
recovered from an RD ship.
In response to the the toxic spill, and the mounting controversy over RD's
operations, a PNG Government investigation team arrived in Madang,
in early June. This team was made up of Mr Norman Barnabas from the National
Fisheries Authority (team leader), Ms Gretel Orake from the Department of
Environment and Conservation, Mr Clarence Hoot from the Investment Promotion
Authority, Mr Augus Wialu from the Trade and Industry Department, and Terry
a provincial Fisheries officer. The team was spoken to by a Kananam delegation,
and shown around the RD facilities. The arrival of the team seems to reflect
a mixture of genuine concern within the PNG at events in Madang, but also
an attempt to 'make peace' between the Kananam and RD - to 'smooth things
over'. However the Kananam people have made it clear what they want -- RD
Tuna off their land!
A senior PNG Government source has told Friends of Kananam that
the existing RD Factory now seems to be leaking waste through the porous
coral rock substrate into water systems that leak into Madang Lagoon. The
source has also seen an environmental plan for the new factory (planned
for behind the Vidar Wharf facility) but the source "doubt[s] that RD is
going to such effort and expense!" Contrary to RD's claims about paying
its share of tax, the source tells us that RD "seems to be securing a further
round of tax concessions, and with only minimum wages being paid to young
women employees at the existing plant the local benefits must be limited".
Sabina Sarea in hospital
Frankie Tuaken recovering
Shark fins from RD Tuna ship
Late Wong's body