Investigation Underway Into Solomon Islands Waste Oil Spill From PNG Containers

PNG Department of Environment 'was not notified of the illegal shipment' in 2015

By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 29, 2017) – The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) office was not notified of the illegal shipment of 540 intermediate bulk containers (IBC) filled with waste oil to Solomon Islands in 2015.

And an investigation is already underway which will determine the next course of action.

Secretary for DEC Gunther Joku told Post-Courier yesterday that his office was not notified of the alleged shipment and the spill of waste oil which was allegedly shipped from a mine illegally to Solomon Islands two years ago.

But Mr Joku said he was now aware of the situation and assured that the office will assist its counterpart in Solomon Islands to investigate the shipment.

He said they have notified and engaged the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) to assist with communication with leaders of both countries to finalise the investigations so actions can be taken. Early this month it was reported that there was oil spillage from 200 of these 500 IBC containers which were alleged to be illegally transported into Solomon Islands on-board MV Neptune Gale in 2015.

The shipment was detained by Customs in 2015 and in its attempt to avoid Customs officials the vessel off loaded 200 IBC oil containers and hid them at Tanaro logging camp.

"We are investigating and will take action once a report is finalized," Mr Joku said.

"What may have happened is the mine may have given a contract to one of the companies to export this waste oil. The contractor may have failed to adhere with certain conditions.

"One is complying with the Waigani Convention with regards to the movement of waste. If they did that then we would have been notified and then there will be an arrangement in place.

"So what I’ve done, following your query, I got in touch with our SPREP waste advisor and they are now dealing with this and getting in touch with all agencies," he said.

"If they are responsible then there will be a set of fees and penalty that will apply to them. This is now the issue. Yes, they never consulted us, the officials in Honiara but we have made contact and already investigating this," Mr Joku said.

PNG Post-Courier
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