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By Harlyne Joku

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 1, 2000 – The National)---Environment and Conservation Minister Herowa Agiwa confirmed yesterday that water in the streams within the vicinity of the Tolukuma cyanide spill site in Central province is safe to drink.

Mr. Agiwa said three separate and official studies conducted on water safety have been completed that show positive results.

He expects to make a detailed report to the Cabinet and to Parliament next week on the March 22 cyanide spill and its impacts on the streams and people in the vicinity.

A major cyanide spill disaster was narrowly averted on March 22 when a one ton crate of cyanide pellets en route to the Tolukuma Gold Mine from the Veimauri loading site accidentally fell off a helicopter into the jungle 9 miles southwest of the mine.

Mr. Agiwa said detailed testing of the streams flowing out of the cyanide spill site showed that the waters all had cyanide levels well below all international recognized standards for drinking purposes.

The separate studies were carried out by:

Mr. Agiwa said all separate studies were in complete agreement.

He said that an in-depth study was now being commissioned by his office to ensure that no such incidents were repeated in future. The study would take another month to complete, he said.

He praised the developers for quickly responding to the incident.

He also complimented Tolukuma Gold Mines for supporting landowners in the area below the spill site.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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