OIL SPILL IN SUVA HARBOR CONCERNS RESIDENTS, AUTHORITIES

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 9, 1999 - PACNEWS/Fiji Times)---An oil spill in the harbor of Fiji's capital, Suva, has prompted Fiji's Department of Environment to consider increasing the fine for offenders from US$ 500 to US$ 5,000, the Fiji Times reports.

Residents in the township of Lami, across the harbor from the city, are angry over the pollution. They say oil spills in the harbor are nothing new but the pollution is growing worse.

A large part of Suva's industrial area is located on the banks of the harbor.

Greenpeace Pacific said the Fiji government has done little about oil spills. Greenpeace campaigner, Angie Heffernan, said the spills show the inability of the government to deal with environmental disasters.

The Director of Environment, Epeli Nasome, said his department is concerned about the spills and has asked the Ministry of Finance for extra funds to clean up the mess.

He said the problem will be addressed under new environmental legislation that is part of the Sustainable Development Bill scheduled to go to Parliament for approval later this year.

The bill calls for fines to be increased to US$ 10,000 for first offenders, with custodial sentences for repeat offenders.

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