Pomio deaths further evidence SABL is a disaster for local communities
On Friday 28 November a local Pomio man, Leo Kaukau and a child, Roland Akin, died after eating crabs cooked in water contaminated through the SABL logging and oil palm operations of Rimbunan Hijau. Four others were hospitalized.
Rimbunan Hijau is clearing forests and exporting logs from three Special Agriculture and Business lease areas in the Pomio District of East New Britain. The operations are opposed by local people who say they have not given their consent and the leases were obtained by fraud. Serious human rights abuses by mobile police squads employed by RH to intimidate local people have been documented in an independent multi-agency report.
Roland Akin had left school and run away to the log camp where he was staying with Leo and his family but ended up losing his life.
Local people say Rimbunan Hijau has totally failed in controlling the management of the waste from their logging and oil palm operations and have failed to manage the safety of local people.
Locals report that empty chemical containers can be seen everywhere around the log camp where anyone even children can collect them to use for themselves. Nearly all the households within the SABL area are using the empty containers but nobody from Rimbunan Hijau seems to care about their safety.
Local leaders say they are gravely concerned and that the SABL lease and logging operations are turning into a permanent disaster.
As well as the chemical containers, there is spilling of fertilizers and other chemicals and pesticides everywhere around the log camp. When these spills are reported to the company or local officials there is always a cover up and no action is taken.