Submitted by Diane Farsetta on
David Case reports on Rick Ness, an employee of the Colorado-based Newmont Mining Corporation who the Indonesian government has accused of dumping dangerous waste into a shallow bay in Sulawesi. "Since 2004," Case writes, Ness "has waged a full-time PR and legal campaign to clear his name, with Newmont backing him up at a burn rate of up to $1 million a month." When an infant's death was blamed on the pollution, Ness and Newmont employed "textbook crisis communication. Ness did media interviews and spoke before sympathetic audiences such as the American Chamber of Commerce. He mocked the [Indonesian] government's evidence as 'junk science.' He extolled studies that he said supported the company's argument -- one conducted by the Australian lab CSIRO (and funded by Newmont). ... Meanwhile, Newmont threw its full legal weight at the critics," including independent and government scientists. Ness was acquitted by a provincial court, but the case is now before Indonesia's Supreme Court.