Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ok Tedi immunity removed

OK Tedi mine landowners can now pursue legal actions against BHP in relation to environmental damage caused by the mining operation.
It follows Parliament’s amendment of the Immunity Act 2001 yesterday.
The bill, tabled by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, received overwhelming support from MPs. They repealed the Ninth  Supplemental Agreement on Ok Tedi where all parties undertook to waive any rights or action against BHP Biliton and the State in relation to environmental damage caused by the mining operations at Ok Tedi.
O’Neill said the mine caused a lot of environmental damage which the State and the people did not expect.
He said BHP, “hell-bent on the profits”, ignored it and allowed the disposal of waste into the Fly River, causing extensive environmental damage which affected many lives.
“No one can sit in this house and excuse BHP for the destruction it had caused. But that is what the government, under Sir Mekere Morauta, did in 2001,” the prime minister said.
“They came up with a deal that would grant total immunity to BHP from prosecution for environmental damage or compensation, in exchange for a programme company (PNGSD) set up outside of PNG in Singapore, and still controlled by BHP.
“Of course Sir Mekere now sits at the top of PNGSDP, and Ok Tedi Mining Ltd as chairman, courtesy of his friends at BHP when he retired.”
He said the Bill would remove this waiver for BHP Biliton meaning that landowners or affected parties could bring any action or enforce any right against it.
 “The government in 2001 made a very bad decision in granting immunity to a corporate giant, preventing its own people from exercising their right under law to sue for permanent damages done to their environment and their livelihood.
“This doesn’t happen anywhere else. Companies and corporate entities own up to their responsibilities and pay compensation,” he said.

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