Mining company looks bad in report on pollution of Indonesian bay

The saga of Newmont Mining Corp.’s mine in Buyat Bay in Indonesia is long and full of drama, like a soap opera, only with more dead and disfigured Indonesian children. The company has been accused by local villagers of polluting the bay, and the government went as far as arresting five Newmont senior employees (later released). The company claimed that subsequent studies vindicated them, showing no pollution in the bay. Of late, all parties have been awaiting a comprehensive study by a government panel, leaked to The New York Times before its official release. The results are mixed. The report shows conclusively that the sediment in the bay contains high levels of arsenic, which has entered the food chain via bottom-feeding organisms, and that fish in the bay are contaminated with dangerously high levels of arsenic. However, Indonesia has no guidelines governing heavy metals in sediment, and the water itself falls within Indonesian standards. The company is now in talks with the villagers. Newmont didn’t help its PR case by seemingly attempting to bribe reporters for favorable coverage.