8 October 2012

Call for an investigation into the Tumbi Quarry landslide

Posted by Dave Petley

Earlier this year I featured on a number of occasions the Tumbi Quarry landslide in Papua New Guinea of 24th January 2012 (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) .  As a reminder, this was a large landslide at a quarry site in a remote area of Papua New Guinea that killed 60 people.  At the time there was a controversy about the cause of the landslide, which happened in a quarry that was providing aggregate for a pipeline project run by Esso Highlands (EHL).  My line from the very start was that this landslide needs to be properly investigated, even though a National Disaster Center (NDC ) report suggested that it was”caused by continuous heavy rainfall which weakened, or undermined, the existing topography and the limestone formation.”

A new article has appeared in Pacific Scoop, reporting that the International State Crime Initiative (ICSI) have released the result of an investigation into the landslide.  This report, entitled The Forgotten Disaster, as available for download as a PDF.  They report that “To date no inquiry has been held into the cause of the landslide”.  The report quotes my posts on this blog in a number of places, but also goes on to detail allegations of neglect of the survivors,and threats and bribery of local people.  Thus, the report calls for a form a Commission of Inquiry into the Tumbi Quarry landslide probing the following key issues:

  • The cause(s) of the landslide
  • The alleged failure if EHL to relocate the villages of Tumbi and Tumbiago prior to the landslide
  • Allegations of collusion between the NDC and EHL
  • The NDC’s alleged failure to provide adequate humanitarian assistance;
  • The NDC’s alleged failure to properly manage the distribution of financial aid;
  • Allegations that local landowners protesting the official landslide response were threatened by national government representatives;
  • Allegations that protesting local landowners were offered undisclosed payments by EHL;
  • The strength of environmental and safety oversight provided by regulatory agencies at PNG LNG sites.

It is a tragedy that this landslide has not been investigated in an open and transparent way.