President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. said that the people should really listen to what the experts say on the controversial proposed 50-year commercial sand mining project by a Japanese company in Ngarchelong State instead of making the issue a “political debate with many insinuendos and fake news.”

Remengesau was commenting on the issue when asked by the media during the press conference on Wednesday, November 21, about the proposed project by the Japanese-run company, RAM Corporation, that drew a lot of public reactions as it is seen to impact an area that is home to some endangered species.

“I just want to say, whether it’s channel dredging or sand mining, there has to be a very good impact study on what it is going to be. The last thing we want is some political debate into something that is not true,” Remengesau said.

Remengesau added that he wanted to see what the Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB) or any other independent environment assessors can do to help the people of Ngarchelong State dredge their channel in an environmentally safe way and be able to make money out of the project.

“There are right ways to do things and there are wrong ways to do things,” Remengesau said, emphasizing that if studies or research reveal that there is a right way to do the project then it should be done accordingly. The president, however, was quick to add that if the experts say that the project is going to negatively impact the environment, then it should not be done.

“Let’s not turn this into a political agenda,” Remengesau urged.

Remengesau also took the time to clear his or any of his family members’ alleged involvement in the project.

“I am not involved in that nor my son is involved in that, nor anybody in my family involved in that, because those were the things that were said during the elections – that the president is personally involved in some way, so please get that off your chests,” Remengesau expressed.

People from different parts of Palau had previously gathered for a public hearing on the project that was initiated by the EQPB last November 10.

Island Times previously reported that the project is believed to impact an area as big as the stretch from Malakal in Koror to the end of Airai and it is also estimated to extract 465,125,000 cubic yards of sand in reef areas about the size of Koror.

Staunch advocates of environment protection and conservation expressed opposition against the project, saying that the areas to be utilized for the “sand mining” project are home to endangered species such as dugongs, turtles, stingrays, and eagle rays, among others.

Oppositions said that the project is estimated to yield a profit of $35-Million yet will only contribute 35% of it to the state. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)