The toxic cloud spreads in the morning winds
This is a special report in response to a bad situation. Following so close on the "Patrol Postcard", we have hesitated to contact you again. However, these are exceptional circumstances.
On February 17, toxic gas was released following an explosion at the Ramu Nickel refinery at Basamuk Bay. Notes from the field on Facebook state:
"At approximately 2 am on 17 February people from the Basamuk area of the Rai Coast were awakened to an explosion from from the Basamuk Refinery. This was followed by a hugh cloud of heavy thick gas seeping out of the Acid Tank.
By dawn the thick white smoke had advanced southwards via strong winds toward Mindre and Dein villages. What remained in its path was widespread damage to gardens and local vegetation. Photos show browning and orange like colors sustained by the local vegetation. Villagers are angry and worried about their health as they talk of breathing in the smoke."
Speaking with friends at BRG, I learned that two children from the affected area have died at Madang hospital. To whom did the people of these communities turn in their need and grief? The Bismark Ramu Group. There is an established relationship of trust and support between the communities of Basamuk Bay and BRG that these communities know thay can draw on when things start getting tough. Without your support, they have nowhere else to go. No regulatory framework, no enforcement of anything, no reporting in the PNG media, and no means of redress.
Many of you know that BRG lost substantial funding this year when a major European contributor pulled out for domestic reasons. You can help fill that gap with your support. We are not asking for your donation again. We appreciate the donations already made by everyone who helped us in the GlobalGiving Open Challenge. Now, we would like you to help us make the next step - to reach out to people who are not part of BRG's immediate network for their support. To help us grow a network of supporters by perosnally approaching people you know, asking them to support us with their donation.
You can help. Please do.
Dying banana trees - part of the staple diet.
Another staple food, taro, is quickly dying off.
Food gardens affected by the toxic cloud.