ExxonMobil has just informed PNGindustrynews.net that "there was no need for [PNG LNG-related] blasting at this [Tumbi] quarry". This directly contradicts testimony given by local landowners, who claim blasting occurred at the quarry at the centre of the deadly landslide which killed approximately 26 people.
For example, on 29 January 2012, Timothy Nogobe informed LNG Watch:
"We have ... come to conclude that what has triggered the landslide is the quarry and the use of chemicals and dynamite to blast the quarry at the top of the mountain, this has changed the ground water (Tumbi and Tuku) for the rapid breakdown of the mountain Tumbi burying alive more than 25 people".Clearly, this is a core evidentiary issue that now needs to be clarified; among many other.
Unfortunately it wont be clarified. In a clear breach of basic due process, those who stand accused of negligence, the PNG government and ExxonMobil are already colluding to ensure they get their stories straight.
Indeed it was observed today in the Post-Courier: "Local authorities have had closed door meetings with the Local Disaster Management team, developers Oil Search and Exxonmobil, disaster officers from Port Moresby, Police and other stakeholders". Very cosy indeed and how transparent and independent. When will the NGOs, community groups and traditional landowner representatives be allowed into these closed door meetings.
On another note, we have also seen a shoddy pieces of research conducted by the National Disaster Committee, which has been slammed by international landslide experts, being paraded by the industry as fact: "There are claims blasting at the Tumbi quarry may have contributed to the landslide. But the NDC’s report found the landslide was caused by continuous heavy rainfall which weakened the underlying limestone and resulted in subsidence" (PNG Industry News, 8/2/12). If this was a balanced report, surely it should at least cite the eloquent response by Prof Dave Petley.
Sadly balance has gone out the window with the Tumbi disaster.
The whitewash is well under way.