Liberia: ArcelorMittal, Bea Mountain Summoned for Contempt

The House of Representatives has re-summoned the managements of ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML) and Bea Mountain to appear before the August Body on July 14, with their respective legal counsels, to give reasons “why they should not be held in contempt for impeding the functions of the Legislature” amid failures to appear last Thursday in Session.

AML and Bea Mountain have been charged for the obstruction of works of the House of Representatives following blatant refusals to appear before the House's Plenary as well as the House's Specialized Committee,  chaired by Maryland County District #1 Representative, P. Mike Jurry, to answer questions relating to their modus operandi on the fulfillment (execution) of their respective Mineral Development Agreements (MDA) in the country. 

The House of Representatives regarded the excuses from the AML and Bea Mountain last Thursday, without any representation or a proxy, not only as obstructions to their work but as gross insubordination and defiance and termed their actions as recalcitrance.

The AML is expected to respond, among other sticky issues, to the remedy of spillages of wastewater (raw sewage discharges) from their sewage plant located in Camp C, Yekepa, Nimba  County, which contaminated the water sources including rivers.

ArcelorMittal Liberia had been advised to provide drinking water for dwellers in affected communities following the spillage of “population water” in the water sources of the affected communities. The leaking or flooding of sewages was confirmed (attested) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Executive Director, Prof. Wilson Tarpeh who, during his appearance recently, said AML was fined US$85,000.

Also, Bea Mountain has been summoned on account of the recent chemical spill in the Mafa River in Grand Cape Mount County. 

The House’s Specialized Committee chairman, Jurry, told the Daily Observer recently during an exclusive interview that, besides the spillages of cyanide chemical by Bea Mountain in Grand Cape Mount County, which led to the deaths of fish and other aquatic (marine) species,  there is a keen observation that another deadly chemical, Ammonium Nitrate, is also being used by Bea Mountain. 

The Harper lawmaker said the excess use of Ammonium  Nitrate (NH₄NO₃) is also harmful in killing fish, crab, crawfish, and other fauna inhabitants, likewise as cyanide. The Management of Bea Mountain is expected to appear Thursday, June 30 along with its lawyers to give reasons why it should not be held in contempt for impeding the functions of the Legislature.

At the same time, the House of Representatives has invited the Management of ArcelorMittal Liberia to appear on the same Thursday, June 30, to give updates on its operations and provide a comprehensive listing of expatriates working with the company, as well as employees’ welfare on Health, Housing and Education facilities. 

AML is also expected to update the House on the Concentrator and Sewage system.

Meanwhile, Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Managing Director Mike Doryen, the Liberia Land Authority, and the leadership of the Community Forest Development Committees were expected to appear on June 30 to discuss the management of forests in Liberia but they failed to appear.

This is the first contempt charge of the House of Representatives in the 5th Sitting. The House voted to summon Managing Director Doryen to appear with his counsel before July 8, following a motion from Rep. Ivar Jones.

The House's decision was prompted by a complaint from River Gee County District #3 Representative, Francis Dopoh, who requested the House to invite the FDA Managing Director, the Land Authority, and the leadership of the Community Forest Development Committees (CFDCs) “to answer questions about our forests in Liberia.”

“The Forests, which are owned by our people, are becoming a curse to them. They are not getting the required benefits and or support as intended in the formation of the Forest Benefit Fund. Most of the Forest Communities have not been assigned Community Forest status, least to mention obtaining benefits from the conversion program,” Rivergee County Electoral District #2 Representative Francis Dopoe said.

He added: "Today, as we speak, though River Gee County is blessed with many forests and other bountiful resources, River Gee has its people living in poverty and are heavily relying on the scarce resources of the Government.