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Editorial: EPA’s assessment in Cape Mount desires more

Editorial: Final report of environmental assessment and water quality testing released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on spillage of cyanide into the Marvoe Creek and Mafa River in Grand Cape Mount County appears to be inexhaustive and stops short of holding anyone accountable. The report also fails to state clearly what measures have been put in place to avoid a repeat of said incident that threatens both human and aquatic lives.

Rather, the EPA says that all perimeters tested are appreciably below permissible limits it has set and that the “water resource is safe for all intent and purpose.”

The statement “all perimeters tested are appreciably below permissible limits set” presupposes that the assessment was selective or restricted, in a matter that could have far-reaching consequences and susceptible health problems.

The Agency had earlier reported that higher than permissible levels of free cyanide spillage from Bea Mountain Mining Company led to pollution of the Mafa River in Grand Cape Mount.

On May 24, 2022, Bea Mountain confirmed receiving similar reports and subsequently warned residents in the surrounding areas on June 3, 2022, to avoid using the water streams for any purpose, pending detailed assessment.  

One would have thought that said detailed assessment may have included bringing to book entities or individuals responsible, and actions to avert a reoccurrence. But as it stands, residents are being told water from the river is once again, safe for “all intent and purpose.”

However, the fact remains that both Bea Mountain and the New Liberty Gold Mine still operate in the county, and the former still uses cyanide that could spill again downstream the river and pose further environmental threats.

It is important that agency such as the EPA does everything in executing its responsibility in ways that leave no room for suspicion because of ambiguity. What advice did the Agency give to Bea Mountain regarding the operation of its plant that led to spillage of cyanide into river and creek used by citizens for drinking and other purposes?

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Already, a local chief from the affected area has raised concern about the assessment conducted by the EPA and findings released, contending that their lawyer is not in the know and so villagers wound not fetch water from the affected river and creek until otherwise.

Something is not adding up. The EPA should get down to villagers who are the direct victims of the pollution not only to allay their fears but to assure them of measures put in place to avert a reoccurrence as well as to bring perpetrators to book. 

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