It has been nearly a year ago when a reservoir facility containing chemicals belonging to MNG-Gold, overflowed with rainwater and later spilled into the nearby Sein Creek, a major water source for residents in Saywehta Town, Kokoyah Statutory District in Bong County. The creek was one of several water sources polluted by MNG-Gold chemical over-spill.
According to Kokoyah Statutory District Superintendent Conde Yallah, since the chemical spillage, some of the citizens have complained of suffering from persistent stomach pain, running stomach, skin disease, rash and bloody stool.
Mr. Yallah informed this newspaper that the residents heavily depend on the creek for livelihood.
Yallah said authorities of MNG-Gold failed to provide proper medical treatment to those poisonous chemical had made sick.
“People who frequently use the creek complain that despite the spillage barely a year ago, during the heavy downpour, the creek smells like some explosive materials,” Mr. Yallah claimed.
When contacted via mobile phone, an environmental health officer at the Phebe Hospital, Young Payegar, said cyanide was one of the three chemicals that spilled into the creek, something he described as “dangerous to human health.”
Quoting from a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents, Payegar explained that people exposed to cyanide can develop dizziness, headache, vomiting, rash, rapid heartbeat rate and weakness. Other symptoms, he said include restlessness, convulsions, loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, lung injury, respiratory failure leading to death, etc.
“Survivors of cyanide poisoning may develop heart, brain and nerve damage, according to the CDC,” Mr. Payegar revealed.
Lloyd Ngaway, MNG-Gold’s media relations officer, said the company obtained health certificate from Phebe Hospital. He said that all of those affected as a result of the spill received proper medical treatment and were discharged.
“The symptoms people are showing after nearly a year since the spillage in Saywehta is something else, not the chemical spill,” Ngaway said.
“We agreed that there were minor illnesses as a result of the chemical spillage, but Phebe Hospital and JFK Hospital said that the victims are well,” he declared.
MNG–Gold is a Turkish Mining company working in several parts of Kokoyah District, in Bong County. The company took over from the American-Liberian Mining Company (Amlib) in 2013 following a mutual agreement between the two companies. The company began mining gold in August 28, 2015, with a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Under the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) signed between AmLib and the Liberian government in 2005, the company is required to ensure that the lives of citizens are protected from chemicals and to provide care for citizens in case of health problems arising from exposure to chemicals.
Under the MDA, MNG contributes US$12,000 a month or US$84,000 a year to Bong County’s Social Development Fund for its mining operations in the district.
It can be recalled on September 29, 2017, about 30 persons were admitted at the Phebe Hospital for exposure to a chemical spillover from MNG-Gold reservoir in Saywehta Town. The incident took place at one of the mining sites of MNG-Gold in the Kokoyah Statutory District after a heavy downpour.
It has not been established by hospital authorities in the county that people suffering from these sicknesses because of the chemical spillover in the water.