It can be recalled that in 2016, the Marvoe Creek and the Mafa River in Grand Cape Mount County were once more polluted in May of this year, thus prompting the EPA to launch an immediate investigation.
During a media tour of the gravely affected town on Monday, October 10, 2022, residents informed reporters that they are barely living in hell as there has been no main source of water for them since the Marvoe Creek got contaminated by the operations of Bea Mountain.
As the brownish looking water remains inflexible with barely any living species to be found, thus posing serious harm for human consumption, and with the only hand pump also said to be contaminated, residents depend solely on rain water and a little creek for water.
But the rain water isn’t anything much to depend on as the residents indicate that whenever there is a blast by the company, powders from the blast are spread over the zincs and that pose danger to the rain. The newly discovered creek isn’t also anything to rely upon because it gets dry early in the dry season, residents say.
It can be recalled that the EPA in its preliminary report confirmed that there were deaths to aquatic species including fish, crabs, crawfish, and other fauna inhabitants; and these fatalities were caused by asphyxiation – deprivation of oxygen needed to sustain life underwater.
Conducted in early June of 2022, the scientific investigation downstream of Bea Mountain operations continued upstream to assess the quality of the water, probed the authenticity of the alleged pollution, and trace plausible source(s) of pollution.
According to the EPA, the analysis results showed a higher than the permissible level of free cyanide with source from the Bea Mountain Mining Corporation tiling storage facility resulting in a corresponding reduction in dissolved oxygen level.
However, the EPA two months later (August) soon somersaulted on its initial findings and cleared Bea Mountain Mining Corporation over the pollution of the rivers in Grand Cape Mount.
“A technical team from the agency completed a final round of environmental assessment and water-quality testing on the Marvoe Creek downstream the New Liberty Goldmine… and is pleased to inform you that all facilities tested were appreciably below the permissible level set up by the EPA,” the agency said in a statement on Monday. It said it finalized its investigation in July.
But the statement did not say what led to the reversal of the initial findings. The EPA had said it would conduct a final report only to find out what led to the death of fish, not a fresh round of investigation. However, it did not say what killed the fish.
Accordingly, speaking further to the team of reporters, the residents of the affected Jikardor Town, decried that their only option is to be relocated as they smell future dangerous consequences as a result of the company’s operations.
Alieu Gaytaweh, spokesperson of the town, told reporters that the town no longer has any major source of drinking water as the Marvoe Creek and hand pump remain polluted, and while the locally manufactured water supplied to them by the company is not coming in time as agreed upon.
Most besides, Mr. Gaytaweh explained that the quantity of water being supplied by the gold miners is in small quantity and as such, it cannot adequately serve the 350 inhabitants.
He pointed out that the pollution of the river has since had a daunting economic impact of residents of the town, who survived hugely on fishing activities prior to the pollution.
“Our greatest fear here is that something more dangerous could happen and people die if we continue living here. We want to call on government to prevail on the company to relocate us. Our fear here is that the mining operations here could have life threatening consequences to us as was in the case of the landslide in Mano River Kongbor,” asserted Mr. Gaytaweh.
“Most besides, the water is one of our major sources of earning but as we speak, there is no fish species in it anymore. We were fishing there and selling those fishes to buy our food stuff but this is no more. On the issue of drinking water, the company agreed and started supplying us with water and food monthly, but that it is not sufficient. In fact, the last time they give us food was since July. The water supply doesn’t serve us. Since these things promised us cannot be met, we want relocation, because our lives, especially our children, are in danger. We can control ourselves but we cannot control our children from venturing around that water,” he furthered.
“All in all, relocation is the best way forward and so our most concern is relocation. If they are ready to relocate us, we can identify a place that we will be relocated. Our houses are cracking and our only mosque has cracked as a result of the blasting that normally takes place on the mine,” the spokesman added.
Madam Geima Pabai, Chairlady of Jikardor Town, is in support of this call as she joined Spokesman Gaytaweh to call on the Government of Liberia (GoL) to exert all efforts that would ensure residents are relocated by the company.
“We are suffering in this town here. We, as women, have to cook but we don’t have water. We need to bath our children, but no water and there is no creek to wash our clothes. We don’t have drinking water. We have only been managing with rain water, and the way no rain this few times, we are finding it difficult. The mineral water that they supply us is sufficient. When we manage, it takes only one day. We want our town relocated and we if they agree, we will find the space,” Chairlady Pabai pleaded.
Bendu Dukuly, a young lady who feet got affected reportedly as a result of the pollution, is craving the indulgence of the company, goodwill institutions and individuals to help her seek further treatment even though the brunt of the itches and rashes has gone.
“The time the chemical got in the water, we got in the water to get the fish. In the night, my whole body, especially my feet started itching me and in the end, rashes came all on my feet. I went to the hospital and they give medicine and recommended some. I had to use my own money to buy it because there was no medicine at Kinjor Clinic. I have spent more than US$100 treating this problem. Though the itching has stopped and the sores from the rashes have gone, but I still need to go to hospital because I don’t what might still happen to me in the future,” added Bendu, 23.
For his part, old man Jimmy Kamara, a former fisherman, is going blindly reportedly due to the water contamination.
“I am going blind due to the water pollution. I used to fish in that water and use the proceeds from the sales of the fish to feed my family. Out of a sudden, I just saw my eyes getting blind. I don’t see too clearly anymore,” intoned Pa Kamara, who spoke through an interpreter.
Meanwhile, when Debar W. Allen, General Manager of Bea Mountain was contacted regarding the concerns of the affected residents of Jikardor Town, he declined to comment, but referred our reporter to speak with Mr. Alphonso Toweh who happens to be the company’s media consultant.
In adherence to professionalism and good journalism, our reporter then contacted Mr. Toweh for comment on the matter. In an initial text message exchange with Mr. Toweh earlier by 11:23AM on yesterday, he promised to speak to the issue within two hours, but failed to do so.
“Ok. Please hold on to it as I am not well. But within 2 hours I will call you. But thanks very much for the level of professionalism,” said Mr. Toweh in his text message to this writer.
In line with the time stipulated, Mr. Toweh, who is also a media executive and educator, was again contacted by 1:42PM to speak to the issue. This time he shortly responded: “Ok. I will call you soon.”
The BMMC media consultant was finally contacted by 2:24PM, but all he could say was: “Ok. Soon.”
Mr. Toweh later then called the reporter and pleaded with him to hold onto the story up to the next day. But owing to the importance and timeliness of the story as the aggrieved residents of Jikardor Town need urgent redress to their disappearing+++ concerns, the editorial team resolved to publish the story having made frantic fruitless efforts to get the side of the accused company.