Home > Human rights, LNG, Papua New Guinea > Exxon-Mobil compromised on safety at Hides gas field

Exxon-Mobil compromised on safety at Hides gas field

February 4, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Tom Makire

THE land mass that moved was sitting smack in the middle of two points of massive land movement (tremor) separated by a mere 50m. The top point is where the quarry machinery weighing up to 20 tonnes each is at work, shaking the earth’s foundations.
Less than 50m below, the heavy traffic from vehicles and machinery on the main highway each again weighing 20-50 tonnes shake the earth’s foundations.

The land that slipped was between these two points and with most of the vegetation being removed through gardening and other LNG related activities such as clearing nothing could hold up that land mass.

The situation is compounded by the continuous rain of late which meant rain on the quarry site added extra weight on the land mass. With all that pressure something was bound to give way and it did!

Exxon Mobil has a worm’s eye view of safety in its operations.

Their safety officers are trained to look out for safety issues in the confines of the work place. For instance, is the operator on the loader at the quarry property kitted with safety gear? Are the drivers of the trucks on the road also safety conscious?

Do they have people specifically trained to look out for such risks like the pressures exerted on that land mass that slipped? Did Exxon Mobil through someone in safety department have a bird’s eye view of it s operations?

Literally speaking, someone in a chopper would have spotted the danger. ExxonMobil has thousands of hours of chopper flight hours over that area to its credit.

History has it that big international corporations get away without being held responsible for such catastrophes simply because of the bias contracts they sign with host countries.

In this case Exxon Mobil will argue that the land mass that slipped was not on its area of activity. It will say that the disaster has natural causes. I am sure there is no clause in their contractual obligations with the state that will hold them responsible.

The government, if, as it preaches, is for the people and by the people must ensure independent teams of scientists and engineers visit that area and conduct a thorough site investigation. There should be stress tests if possible. The PNG LNG developers must be held accountable.

The government must revisit its agreement with the PNG LNG developers if the investigation reveals negligence on the developer’s part.

For one thing the developer sure did fail to relocate that village which was so close to its area of operations.

Mind you there are other villages and settlements which are separated only by the fence at some of the operation sites. So much so for safety by a company that preaches it is safety conscious. A safety audit of the PNG LNG project might even be timely now.

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