PNG GOLD MINE CYANIDE SPILL REPORT CONFIRMS CLEANUP SUCCESS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (November 8, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---The Office of Environment and Conservation (OEC) has made public a report of its findings on the environmental impact of the Tolukuma Gold Mine Ltd. cyanide spill incident in March, confirming the overall cleanup success by TGM.

But the Office of Environment and Conservation has recommended that TGM continue monitoring isolated areas, which returned concentrations above international limits.

The Office of Environment and Conservation took 37 soil samples on a regular grid and analyzed them for cyanide to monitor the success of the clean up. About half of the samples taken from the spill site showed detectable but low cyanide concentrations.

However, samples from two locations showed cyanide levels exceeding international limits.

The report was released at the launching of an environmental code of practice for mining industries yesterday.

On March 17 this year, one ton of cyanide pellets spilled to the ground from a transport helicopter when the sling carrying the crate of pellets snapped.

The crate reportedly fell some 30 meters (33 yards) onto a slope in the dense jungles of Central Province mountains. Some of the cyanide was washed by rain into a creek.

The investigation into the cyanide spill accident was made possible by the European Union.

The investigation first concentrated on monitoring the water quality of rivers near the spill site, whose inhabitants would have been the first ones to be affected by the possibly contaminated water.

The monitoring was carried out by Office of Environment and Conservation staff located at Inaina village, who sampled the water between the village and the spill site on a daily basis for 24 consecutive days.

The 24-day water quality monitoring project revealed that only sample locations within 100 meters (110 yards) of the spill site showed detectable cyanide concentrations.

At Inaina village none of the water samples taken showed any detectable cyanide concentrations.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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