Shangyou Wood Caught in Breach of Environmental Law

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A Chinese company, Shangyou Wood Industry, has been fined US$10,000 to be deposited into the general revenue account of the Government of Liberia after said company was caught in wrongful disposal of sawdust into the wetland ecosystem in Kakata, Margibi County.

The act was uncovered when inspectors of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had gone in line with their duty to inspect the company’s operational facility, where they left and were allegedly assaulted by some of the operators.  The Environmental Protection Management Law of Liberia sets the basis that “All industries, projects, and activities are subject to periodic audits and ongoing monitoring” in accordance with sections 24, 25, and 26.

Section 27 (4) of the EMPL then provides that, “Any owner/management of any industries, projects, activities existing or initiated prior to the effective date of the EMPL, who fails to comply with the directions issued under section 27, commits an offense and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding US$10,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, or both.”

In line with the EMPL provisions, the EPA, according to a release issued on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, established that various trucks belonging to Shangyou Wood have been transporting sawdust and disposing it on the wetland.  “This amounts to a breach of the integrated Environmental Protection Management Plan (EPMP) presented by the company and enshrined within the submitted Project Brief and Environmental Permit-EPA/EP/PB/EMP/001/0818 issued by the EPA,” said the release. “Also the company’s workers, in violation of section 95 of the EMPL, assaulted and abused an Environmental Inspector, Mr. Anthony Kollie, head of Margibi Environmental Team at the facility of Shangyou Wood.”

The EPA, on July 9, 2020, cited the management of the company to give reasons why it should not be held liable of a violation, and EPA Acting Executive Director, Randall Dobayou said based on the results of the meeting, they saw it appropriate and lawful to levy the fine of US$10,000 that is the stipulated amount for the act the company’s management conceded to committing.

After making payment of the fine, the Shangyou Wood Industry is requested to submit a copy of the flag receipt to the EPA as a proof of payment, and in accordance with Section 26 of the EPML, Shanyou is required to submit to the EPA its quarterly environmental monitoring.

“We will not relent in enforcing the law, and will not be intimidated by any one person or group because they have big pockets to influence decisions one way or the other.  We will do what is required in the law,” said Acting Director Dobayou.

“The wetland is an ecosystem of significance to the environment.  For instance, it hosts a huge variety of fish and other living things. You see the mangrove swamp, it hosts a huge amount of rainwater dropping on the surface of the earth and it is a place where fish, turtles, and other animals (aquatic) can breed.  Disposing wastes there is not a good thing for the environment, and we will make sure to enforce the laws protecting these things as long as we are at the EPA and will not be afraid of people or groups who believe have big and wide pockets that they can do anything to go free.”

He further noted: “The EPA also uses this medium to strongly warn proponents and companies around the country to stop abusing and disrespecting Environmental Inspectors, the inspectors represent the law and must be respected with no precondition.  The agency will not relent to implement consistent mandate to collect, analyze, and prepare basic scientific data and other information pertaining to pollution, degradation, and the conservation of our environment.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has in recent days been rigorous in its activities, fining companies and other businesses that are seen going against the environmental laws.  It can be recalled that the EPA a week ago fined the Monrovia Brewery for refusing to allow its inspectors access to the company’s facilities. It also shut down seven water companies last month after realizing from sample testing that their product had bacteria that make the water unsafe for consumption. The EPA shut down two unidentified companies that were involved in surreptitious production of water on 18th Street, Sinkor.

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