The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh on Tuesday, 22 February 2022 assured the public that last Saturday’s spillage of ammonium nitrate in Small Bomi, Grand Cape County is unlikely to cause any adverse environmental or health risk to residents.
A truck with registration number ‘TR-007’ transporting 26 metric tons of ammonium nitrate from the Port of Buchanan to New Liberty Gold Mines in Grand Cape Mount County accidently veered off the left side of the road about 75 meters along the drainage and hit an embankment causing the vehicle to tip over.
The early morning accident, according to Prof. Tarpeh resulted into the spilled of about 10 metric tons of ammonium nitrate at the top of the embankment.
Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound. It is a white crystalline solid consisting of ions of ammonium and nitrate. It is highly soluble in water. Predominantly it is used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer.
He explained that the incident caused ‘substantial damage’ to the cabin of the truck and resulted into multiple injuries to the head, right arm and left leg of the driver, Mr. Raymond S. Howard.
“He was immediately rushed to the St. Timothy Hospital in Robertsport, where he underwent surgery and is currently undergoing treatment,” Prof. Tarpeh said.
The EPA Boss disclosed that EPA technicians and some members of the Joint Security Team were escorting the chemical convoy when the accident happened.
He noted that a team from head office including the Agency’s lead scientist was dispatched to the scene to assess the situation and engage community members, record environmental data and supervise the recovery process.
“The EPA emergency response team arrived onsite at about 9:30 a.m. The team had a town hall meeting with the community and explained the incident management system. The community engagement allayed public fear and provided an overview of ammonium nitrate,” Prof. Tarpeh added.
“After the town hall meeting, EPA recorded environmental quality data and supervised the complete cleanup of the spill by the Bea Mountain Mining Company’s Environmental Team.” Said Prof.Tarpeh.
He disclosed that no residue of ammonium nitrate remained after the cleanup process and noted that no water sources were observed within 10 meters radius of the area.
Prof. Tarpeh clarified that Bea Mountain Mining Company and its supplier, KAPEKs, complied with all guidelines governing the importation, transport, handling and storage of the current consignment of 5,000 metric tons of ammonium nitrate.
“Bea Mountain Mining Company and KAPEks also obtained all documents required to meet full compliance and during the transportation of the ammonium nitrate from Buchanan to New Liberty Gold Mine, the Joint Security Team including the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Mines and Energy and EPA provided escort for each convoy,” EPA Boss added.
This, he disclosed ensured an adequate response to the incident of 19th February 2022.
He thanked the Joint Security Team and residents of Small Bomi for their support during the emergency response and assured that the EPA remains committed to working with all stakeholders, both public and private, to ensure that the environment remains safe at all times.
The Agency reassures the public of its inalienable commitment to ensuring a clean, healthy and safe environment for this and succeeding generations.