Residents of Belema and Sawmill communities on Bushrod Island in Monrovia have said they may file a lawsuit against Liberia Cement Company (CEMENCO) for its ongoing demolition exercises if the company refuses to carry out environmental safety procedures.
The residents complained that their homes are covered in dust during the demolition of the old factory. However, Mr. James D. Gibson, Jr. told the Daily Observer last week that the demolition at the old CEMENCO factory has not started, pending the result of a bid process for a company the perform the demolition exercise. Gibson also said that the cement production process is done in coordination with Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and poses no health risks to the community.
Mr. C. Brown Dennis, spokesperson of the communities, who spoke to the media after a peaceful protest yesterday at the main entrance of the company, said that they experience flooding during the rainy season “because the new factory which is built in the community often blocked the waterways.”
He claimed that the current demolition exercise that CEMENCO is undertaking will pose serious risks to their health.
“This peaceful protest is to create awareness by calling the attention of CEMENCO management to the manner in which they are dismantling the old plant; that it could cause us serious health problems. What we want them to do is to stop and hire a professional company; and if they do not stop, we will take legal action against them,” said Dennis.
He alleged that the company hired by CEMENCO does not have the equipment to do the work properly and “is not licensed by the government of Liberia through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”
He claimed that there is a sickness or disease called “asbestosis,” which comes from asbestos, adding that if the sheets are not dismantled properly they will cause lung cancer for residents.
“Last week, we met the management of the company and they denied that they were not dismantling the plant and said in fact they do not have asbestos. But interestingly, when you look at the plant, it tells you that they are carrying on the demolition,” he said.
He therefore called on the national government and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to intervene so as to save their communities from “environmental calamity.”
Meanwhile, officials at CEMENCO contacted refused to comment or address the issue.