Press Statement (Effort Made)
REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
P.O. Box 4024
4th Street Sinkor, Tubman Boulevard,
1000 Monrovia, 10 Liberia
November 9, 2017
Honorable Minister(s), fellow Liberians, Members of the Press, Ladies and Gentleman
On Wednesday September 27, 2017, a section of the geo-membrane layer of the tailing storage dam at the MNG Gold mines in Kokoya Bong County ruptured and resulted into uncontrollable discharged of slurry containing cyanide from the dam into the Sien Creek. The discharged led to the contamination of ground and surface waters including hand pumps and the Sien Creek. The situation also disrupted farming activities in some parts of Sayewheh Town and along the affected creek. This situation posed potential health hazard to the community and its inhabitants thus resulting to the temporarily closure of all hand pumps, banned on farming activities and artisanal mining, as well as the closure of schools and referral of some community members for medical examination.
However, the Government Inter-Ministerial Crisis Management Team (CMT) chaired by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Liberia was immediately setup to probe the matter and as well work with MNG Gold’s management to ensure that the situation is brought under control and relevant actions are adequately taken to avert reoccurrence.
Efforts have been made to restore the livelihood of the people of Sayewheh town and as well repair damage done to the dam, which failure resulted into spillage of cyanide-containing effluent in the environment.
We are pleased to report you that the 34 persons that allegedly came in contact with the contaminated water were treated and medical reports from Phebe Hospital, MNG Clinic and JFK Medical Hospital confirmed that there is no direct correlation of cyanide to the illnesses reported by the people. Surface water and ground water which previously contained traces of free cyanide are now free of any concentration of cyanide. Community members are now allowed to use the hand pumps and resume normal activities including farming, etc
MNG Gold has provided additional food items to the community members during a transitional period of resumption of normal activities. This is to demonstrate the company’s commitment to its social responsibility and concern for the wellbeing of community members.
Let me assure you that the community is excited and satisfied with the level of work that has been done by MNG and the Government CMT in remediating the crisis. As we work diligently with the company to repair the damage TSF, constant monitoring and compliance enforcement will be conducted during all mining activities. The Government, through the CMT appreciates the effort of those who participated in the crisis management process. We thank the press which constantly informed the general public about the situation in Kokoyah. It is our desire and commitment to ensure that these kinds of disaster are averted or significantly minimized.
Delivered by: Hon. Urias S. Goll
Deputy Executive Director