“The person, group or authority responsible for bringing in these supply and storage vessels must immediately get these vessels out of the old government wharf, out of Kieta and out of Bougainville waters.
There is an imminent risk and danger from all the signs and indications and from information from the security staff and some of the crew on the vessels that one or both vessels are developing leaks. The worst that will happen is for the vessels, especially the fuel supply vessel, Pacific Trainer, already under stress and in a state of disrepair, to sink where it is berthed. Both vessels are aged, rusting away and under stress and duress.”
Simon Pentanu Resident of Pok Pok Island
The environmental contamination and pollution from the leakages is already evident. It will destroy one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. It will affect the Kieta harbour shoreline, the shores and fishing grounds of nearby villages and the spawning grounds for all stock and variety of fish. The tides can carry any spills and leakages as far south as Koromira and up north towards Arawa, Loloho and Rorovana.
As well as our pelagic stock fishing grounds, the barrier reefs that serve the coastal populations as sources of food and income from seafood are most at risk. The mangroves that are spawning habitats for tuna and other fish are at risk too. This is real. It is frightening.
Both these vessels are unseaworthy. They should have never been allowed into the harbour in the first place. The damage and cost in pollution, contamination and cleaning up will outweigh any benefits to anyone for which these vessels were brought here in the first place.
Appropriate authorities, namely NMSA (National Maritime Safety Authority), the Department of Environment and Conservation and the ABG Emergency Service should cooperate with our national and ABG customs and immigration staff to call in the foreigners involved, inspect the vessels and furnish a Report to ABG, the MHR for North Nasioi and the NNCOE (North Nasioi Council of Elders). These authorities should act immediately. The ABG must take decisive steps and actions on this imminent threat to the environment.
Of immediate and long term risk are residents along the shoreline of Kieta Harbour, the coastal villages and hamlets in Metora VA which includes Pokpok Island and Siipa Bay as well as villages along the coast north, east and south of Kieta.
We cannot talk about tourism sites, natural attractions and potential for the industry when we allow the gravest danger of pollution to one of the most beautiful and touristy areas on Bougainville. If Autonomy means we must take responsibility of our own affairs, responsibility for environment must be at the top of the list. Isn’t this one of the offending issues that attracted the wrath of those that fought tooth and nail during the conflict?
We have more than enough examples that should make us shudder and realise that wherever oil spills have happened elsewhere, human lives and every other living thing and form of marine life whose existence depends on the environment have been the most worse off and most deprived for the experience.
The member for North Nasioi and Minister for Department of Primary Industry must take take a firm, decisive and immediate stand to have these vessels removed. Most of the coastal people whose waters stand to be affected do not have or derive any pecuniary benefits from whatever the deal is that has brought these two vessels to Kieta.
Prevention is better than cure. Act now before it is too late! Respect the laws. We must learn and grow to be a lawful society and community instead of being “every man for himself”.