By Alloycious David
Government lead agency on the Inter-Ministerial Crisis Management Team working to resolve recent pollution at MNG Gold in Bong County has dismissed claims that the incident resulted into several persons getting sick.
Liberia Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Deputy Executive Director, Urias Goll said medical reports from three medical facilities including Phebe, JFK Medical Hospital and MNG Gold run clinic in Kokoya confirmed that there is no direct correlation of cyanide to the illnesses reported by the people.
Addressing a news conference on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at the EPA, Mr. Goll said “we are pleased to report to you that the 34 persons that allegedly came in contact with the contaminated water were treated and medical reports from Phebe Hospital, MNG Clinic and JFK Medical Hospital confirmed that there is no direct correlation of cyanide to the illnesses reported by the people.”
He disclosed that efforts have been made to restore the livelihood of the people of Sayewheh town, the community affected by uncontrollable discharged of slurry containing cyanide from MNG Gold’s dam.
According to him, repair works are ongoing on damages done to the dam, which failure resulted into spillage of cyanide-containing effluent in the environment.
On Wednesday, September 27, 2017, a section of the geo-membrane layer of the tailing storage dam at the MNG Gold mines in Kokoya Bong County ruptured and resulted into uncontrollable discharged of slurry containing cyanide from the dam into the Sien Creek.
The discharged led to the contamination of ground and surface waters including hand pumps and the Sien Creek.
The situation also disrupted farming activities in some parts of Sayewheh Town and along the affected creek, posing potential health hazard to the community and its inhabitants.
Following the incident, all hand pumps were temporarily closed while a ban was placed on farming and artisanal mining. Schools were also closed while several community members who came in contact with the chemical were referred to Phebe for medical checkup.
But, Mr. Goll said Government Inter-Ministerial Crisis Management Team (CMT) set-up to probe the matter and as well work with MNG Gold’s management to ensure that the situation is brought under control and relevant actions have been taken to avert reoccurrence.
He disclosed that surface and ground water, which previously contained traces of free cyanide, are now free of any concentration of cyanide.
Goll noted that community members are now allowed to use the hand pumps and resume normal activities including farming.
According to him, MNG Gold has provided additional food items to the community members during a transitional period of resumption of normal activities.