Local authorities close down school in Kokoyah
Reports emanating from the gold-rich area of Sayeweh Town in Kokoyah Statutory District in Bong County, say 19 students at the Sayeweh Town Public School are allegedly suffering from chemical waste infection reportedly dumped near the school by MNG-Gold.
Administrators of the government-run elementary school, which is located at the main operational area of MNG Gold, said for the past two weeks several students have been vomiting with blood, allegedly due to the company’s newly contaminated chemical waste dam constructed few meters away from the main campus of the school.
Residents of the town are therefore calling on the government, through the Ministry of Education (MoE), to request the Turkish Gold Mining Company to speedily relocate the school. “The well at the school, which the children use for drinking, including the creeks in the area, are all contaminated as a result of the chemical waste,” a citizen told the Daily Observer.
When contacted via mobile phone, the company’s Community Relations Manager, Benedict Sayeh, refuted claims by residents that 19 students were vomiting with blood as a result of an alleged chemical waste dumped near the school. He however admitted that three students fell sick and were rushed to the Phebe Hospital for treatment. One student, age 8, was suffering from ulcer and typhoid.
Sayeh said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), the Bong County Health Team and other relevant institutions last Tuesday visited the school campus and the Tailing Storage Facility (TSF), where MNG-Gold dumps its chemical waste.
“From the school campus to our TSF site, it is about one thousand meters away,” Mr. Sayeh said, adding that a quack doctor in the area administered Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) to some of the children who fell sick.
Bong County Superintendent Esther Walker informed this newspaper that she concluded a meeting with the people of Sayeweh Town and MNG-Gold to find an amicable resolution to the problem in the area and that additional tests would be conducted to determine the cause of the children’s illness.
Walker then assured the company and the citizens that the government is committed to protecting them. It may be recalled that recently, several communities in the gold deposit area of David Dean Town, alias “Gold Camp” were infected by a cyanide spillage in 2017. They filed a US$285 million action of damage for wrong against MNG-Gold at the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Gbarnga City, Bong County.
Court records established that the writ carried a 33-count complaint against the Turkish gold mining company, including details about the aftermath of the September 2017 pollution and how it is affecting the communities, including the major water source and people’s livelihoods.
On September 29, 2017, a reservoir facility containing a diluted chemical, overflowed with rainwater, spilling over into a nearby creek in Sayeweh Town; thereby polluting water sources used by local residents for cooking and bathing.