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EPA Releases Findings On Alleged Polluted Water In Bong

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Crisis Management Team have discovered  the MNG uncontrolled discharge of slurry that contains high concentration of cyanide.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the September 27, 2017 intervened into rupture of a section of the geo-membrane of the Tailing Storage Facility (TSF) which occurred at the MNG Gold Mining site in Kokoya Bong County, the situation that resulted into an uncontrolled discharge of slurry containing high concentration of cyanide to the Sein Creek.

Speaking at a press conference in the conference hall of the EPA on Tuesday October 17, 2017, the Executive Director, Urias S. Goll, noted that upon the visit of the technicians from the Crisis Management Team (CMT), they were able to discover that no free cyanide was detected in the Sein Creek, which had a concentration levels of 0.310ppm.

During the first trip by the team they observed that cyanide is a chemical that is used to clean and move gold from its ore and also used to exterminate pests and vermin in ships and buildings.

He noted that from the investigation, the team discovered that out of the six hand pumps that were assessed, there was no indication of cyanide concentration on impact to the ground water.

Goll said unlike the previous assessment, the free cyanide level has decreased by 44% from the 0.966ppm to 0.54ppm within the TSF, “It can be acceptable considering the limit is 50mg/l in TSF according to international cyanide management code,” he said.

It can be recalled that 34 persons were reported hospitalized at the Phebe Hospital upon the occurrence of the rupture, but the Director has stated that out of the 34, six persons are still in the care of the MNG because they need further examination, adding that the rest have been discharged without any complication. “We have not received the latest report from the six persons but will inform the public once the doctor submits the details of the examination,” he noted.

Goll maintained that the EPA has given the MNG the responsibility to provide food for the community, noting that based on their request to the entity, the MNG has provided 300 bags of rice, four cartoons of chicken, three cartoons of beef and four poll tank to supply clean and safe water to the community for the month of October.

However, the EPA and the CMT have authorized the MNG to take two immediate actions which call for the MNG to dewater the TSF that holds about 300,000 cubic meters of water under strict compliance with the International Finance Corporation standards and the Water Quality Guidelines of Liberia.

According to him, a third party has been hired to conduct compliance testing and monitoring during the dewatering process. “This dewatering process is intended to assess the full damage of the TSF in order to ensure comprehensive rehabilitation and repair,” he stressed.

Goll also explained that the MNG will construct a mini-dam (TST) as interim to continue operation while the current TSF is being adequately repaired, noting that the mini-dam is also part of the expansion plan developed by the MNG for the near-term future. “The CMT will again visit the site on the 19 of this month to continue its investigation,” he concluded.