Landowners told to engage consultant on oil spill issue

May 16, 2017 – The National 

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LANDOWNERS whose fisheries and coastlines have been affected by the oil spill in Fairfax Harbour need to get independent advice to see if they can sue Puma Energy for any damage caused to the environment, an expert says.

The expert from the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA), said the landowners need to engage a consultant to look into their case.

“The query in relation to the possibility of local landowners suing the company is yes, however, it is well obvious that Puma is registered and has a valid environment permit which has obligation to fulfil the respective permit conditions.”

The spill at Fairfax Harbour, Port Moresby, occurred on April 25 from a leak from a subsea hose leading to Puma’s Kanudi terminal facility. The leak resulted in about 19 barrels of oil product being released into the harbour area, Puma said at the time.

The National asked the CEPA expert yesterday, who asked not to be named, for his opinion and he said: “It is now onus on the local landowners to engage an independent environmental consultant to independently calculate and verify the environmental damage caused by Puma Energy and taken up to key stakeholders – CEPA, Department of Justice and the Department of Petroleum and Energy.

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Puma Energy Staff cleaning the Oil Spills

“I understand that the CEPA has cooperated with Puma in working together to address this oil spill which were in relation to regulatory compliance under the Environment Act 2000 administratively.

“Our Environment Act 2000, in my personal view, is not that effective in considering the case of the local landowners when it comes to the environmental damage. However, we have a clause under Environment Act 2000 that warrants the emergency clean-up should CEPA see that Puma is not doing enough to control the environmental damage.”

Puma’s country manager, Jim Collings, told journalists last month that Puma wanted to “reassure people that this is a product that has been contained and cleaned up and we are managing that. We will continue to work to ensure that any work on the shore gets cleaned up”.

Collings said Puma safely dealt with 100,000 cubic metres of oil each month – approximately 630,000 US barrels – and that the incident posed no threat to the local fishing industry and marine life in the area.

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