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Villagers fear of water source contamination

Luke Rawalai
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

PEOPLE of Tavea Island are worried about the safety of their water source which they believe contains sulphuric acid.

Speaking at the recent Lekutu district council meeting on the island, village headman Emosi Tokaimasi said their water source was situated amidst a pine station on the mainland in Nakadrudru.

Mr Tokaimasi said they were worried about sulphuric acid being applied to these pine trees as part of resin extraction work carried out by Callison Pacific Limited.

"Our concern is that the water source sits right beneath these pine trees with rain washing the acid down to the source and there have been incidents of people being affected," he said.

"We have seen the effects of sulphuric acid and its mere contact with a safety boot actually disintegrates the boot.

"We have reason to believe that people are getting sick in the village because they are allergic to the acid that seeps from these trees into the water source."

Mr Tokaimasi said they had raised their concerns with the government but nothing had been done so far.

"It is really dangerous as people's lives are at risk here and the last thing we want is someone in the village getting seriously affected by the chemicals.

"We have not had any serious cases since the company began operations last year but we are worried about what the future may have for us.

"I know of a worker who has resigned from his work because of his allergy to sulphuric acid and it has really changed his appearance."

Lekutu Health Centre medical officer Doctor Auvou Tugia also told the meeting she had received cases of workers coming to her claiming they've been affected by acid used to treat the pine trees.

Questions sent to Callison Pacific Limited director Semi Lotawa have remained unanswered.

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