Wants residents resettled
The Government of Liberia (GoL), through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has taken stringent measures against Bea Mountain Mining Corporation, operator of the New Liberty Gold Mines in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County, for blatantly violating the nation’s environmental laws.
To this effect, EPA’s authorities have served Bea Mountain a fine to the tune of US$99,999.99 to be paid into government coffers through the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).
The company has been mandated to pay said amount in 72 hours beginning today, with an official receipt presented to the EPA upon receipt of notice of this fine.
EPA Deputy Executive Director, Randall M. Doboyou, II, told a press conference in Monrovia that the management of Bea Mountain is persistently endangering the lives of Liberians in its areas of operation as it continues to violate the country’s standard mining laws.
Recent findings by EPA’s inspectors, upon an impromptu visit at its Kinjor operations, outlined a direct departure from specific conditions of the environmental permit issued to the company as well as the Environmental Protection and Management Law of Liberia (EPML).
“On July 10, 2018, a team of EPA technicians made an impromptu visit to Kinjor, and found the company in flagrant violation of our laws,” Doboyou said.
The purpose of the visit, he said, was to investigate alleged water pollution some residents have reported of the downstream communities.
“Additionally, the team collected surface and ground water samples at strategic locations within the company’s concession area. Our findings outlined a direct departure from specific conditions of the permit and the EPML,” Mr. Dobayou said.
On June 26 last year, the EPA approved the renewal of the permit #EPA/DP/MZP/001-0616 authorizing Bea Mountain to discharge waste water from the Tailing Storage Facility at the NLGM in compliance with the Liberia Water Quality Standards/Guide of 1987 and the IFC Effluent Guideline.
That permit provided discharge limit at different points across the “mixing zone,” to effectively increase retention time and promote cyanide degradation, thereby supporting the sustainable management of the ecosystem.
But Mr. Doboyou said the company violated Environmental Permit, Condition 5.2: which ensures that the limit of Free Cyanide in wastewater from the TSF-R does not exceed 0.1 mg/L.
According to the laboratory results for the July 10, 2018 visit, the levels of free cyanide at TSF-R was 0.394 mg/L. “This result implies that the level of Free Cyanide is nearly four times the maximum discharge limit,” Doboyou noted.
Also violated by Bea Mountain is Section V, 61 sub-section 1 of the EPMLL, which talks about prohibition against water pollution. This calls for punishment for any person who discharges or applies, or permits any person to dump or discharge, any poison, toxic, noxious, or obstructing matter, radioactive waste or other pollutant into any waters of Liberia, which is likely to cause harm to human health or the aquatic environment in contravention of water pollution control standards established under this Law shall be guilty of an offense.
“The company also violated Part VI, Section 75, subsection 2 of the EPMLL, which indicates that no person shall deposit any substance in a river, lake or wetland or under its bed, which is likely to have adverse effect,” said Doboyou.
Bea Mountain is also in violation of Part V, Section 56, sub-section 1 of the EPMLL that prohibits discharge of hazardous substances, chemicals and materials or oil into the Environment and Spillers Liability.
Accordingly, Bea Mountain Mining Corporation is to remediate the illegal effluence discharge within 15 years and provide drinking water for the affected communities in the meantime.
The EPA has also mandated Bea Mountain Mining Corporation to commission a Resettlement Action Plan by an Independent Environmental Evaluator to determine compensation for the affected communities.
Drastic actions also await Bea Mountain if it fails to do as the EPA has mandated.
Doboyou: “The EPA wishes to make it categorically clear that failure to comply with the Notice of Violation within the stipulated period may lead to drastic penalties including but not limited to additional fines, closure, imprisonment and/or criminal prosecution where applicable.”