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EPA fines 3 businesses

--East International, Fengshou International, and Quetz mining  

Over the past years, poor regulatory practices here have emboldened businesses to abuse Liberian laws with impunity at most times.

By Ethel A. Tweh

Monrovia, Liberia, March 6, 2024: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has fined three private business institutions for different violations, ordering them to pay the imposed fines in government revenues.

The affected institutions are road construction company East International which faces a US$55,000 fine; Fengshon International Company, a US$2,999 fine; and Quetz Mining Company, US$ 2, 999, to be paid within 72 hours, respectively.

EPA Acting Executive Director Dr. Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo told a press conference on Tuesday, 5 March 2024 that East International company’s current EPA permit has expired.

Dr. Urey Yarkpawolo stated that the company has a series of occupational health and safety issues. 

He added that there is no record of quarterly and terminal monitoring reports submitted by the company to the EPA. 

The EPA Acting Boss explained that East International company has not put in adequate personal protective equipment for the workers, among other violations. 

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He added that East International does not follow regulations, lamenting that the company emits three times particulate matter 2.5 which is a dust particle that can easily be inhaled and causes some respiratory problems, more than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended limit.

Meanwhile, East International is also requested to renew its expired permit and follow all the environmental protection laws of Liberia.

In the same development, the EPA investigated the activities of Fengshou International, an affiliate of East International, which operates a rock quarry in Ben’s Town, Margibi County. 

The report from the investigation showed that Fengshou has unsustainably backfilled a portion of the Marshall wetland without reference to the EPML.

According to the Acting EPA chief, these acts by Fengshou International violate Part VI Section 76 of the EPML, which calls for the protection of rivers, lakes, and wetlands. 

He therefore ordered Fengshou International closed until a more sustainable method is approved by the EPA.

The EPA also investigated the Quetz Mining Corporation which is involved in the illegal mining of black sand or zircon within the New West Point community in Brewerville, Montserrado County.

Dr. Urey Yarkpawolo said the investigation was based on a media alert and complaint filed at the EPA, relative to the unsustainable mining activities, and its likely impacts of exposure to nearby residents due to threats of coastal erosion. 

He said the investigation which was initiated on 26 February by a team of environmental technicians, identified several issues of violations.

The EPA Acting boss explained that Quetz mining company, partly owned by a Liberian, is heavily involved in the mining, buying, and processing of zircon at its facility without any authorization from the EPA.

 The findings also established the wanton issue of environmental degradation taking place along the coastal habitat of the New West Point community and the facility of Quetz mining.

Quetz does not have a permit from the EPA, and it conducts unsustainable beach sand mining along the coast, said the EPA.

The state regulator added that Quetz also facilitates unsustainable beach sand mining by locals for sale to the mining company. 

It stated that Quetz also improperly manages and discharges mine wastewater and tailings within the coastal zone. 

The EPA has therefore fined the Quetz mining company US$2, 999 to be paid within 72 hours.

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