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Health officials deploy in Bong

A team of experts from the Ministry of Health, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in Bong County to ascertain facts into claims of chemical pollution that allegedly led to the closure of a school as students fall ill.

The deployment of the health officials comes as report continues to emerge from Sayweh Town, Bong County about the illness of about 19 school kids from the Sayweh Town Public School following alleged pollution of chemical blamed on MNG Gold operations.

Our Bong County Correspondent says in spite of the deployment of health experts in the area and a lawsuit against MNG Gold, Bong County Superintendent Esther Walker remains in denial of the incident, claiming that no one is sick except a child diagnosed of malaria and ulcer.

Our correspondent indicates that Superintendent Walker outrightly dismisses reports about the school kids’ health condition, rejecting suggestions that they may have fallen ill after drinking water from a hand pump at their school which was allegedly affected by waste from MNG Gold company.

School going kids in Sayewhen Town and other parts adjacent held a two – day demonstration in gold – reach Kokoyah District, Bong County, demanding the relocation of their school following its rapid closure due to alleged pollution.There were claims that gold mining company MNG Gold allegedly spilled chemical including cyanide and mercury, causing pollution in the area.

It was alleged that the Company recently released some chemicals from its operation site into the ground which is said to have affected the only hand pump at the Sayewhen Town Public School.It is also reported that school going kids usually drink from the hand pump, and they allegedly continue to drink the “unsafe” water since the chemical allegedly affected the hand pump.

But Superintendent Walker told reporters in the County that the situation is being exaggerated and she believes that such is not good for the image of the County.She explains that she will make any report that will come from the investigation team public for citizens to understand what is also transpiring in Sayweh Town, Kokoyah District.

But she has come under attack from citizens in Bong, with some accusing her of always speaking in the interest of the company even when the realities are shown in the interest of the citizens.The citizens claimed that Madam Walker and some lawmakers from Bong County always defend the company for reasons known to themselves, an allegation the head of the Bong Legislative Caucus Sen. Henry Willie Yallah has denied.

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Meanwhile Superintendent Esther Walker has disclosed that the people of Sayweh Town have filed a lawsuit against MNG Gold.But she did not give details of the lawsuit, only arguing that such legal action by the citizens will not create a smooth working environment between them and the company.She claims that the situation in Sayweh Town, Kokoyah District is not as alarming as it is being reported.

Following her visit there, she claims that no one in the town is sick with the exception of a child who was vomiting and was taken to the Phebe Hospital for treatment.She claims that the child was diagnosed of malaria and ulcer.In spite of her denials, report continues to emerge from Sayweh Town about the illness of about 19 school kids of the Sayweh Town Public School.

Our Bong County Correspondent who visited the place along with the Superintendent states that some of the students are actually ill but it is not clear whether they are sick as a result of MNG’s chemicals.But some in the area are attributing the kids’ illness to the loose dirt of mining company MNG Gold that is being dumped around the vicinity of the school.Many believe that the loose dirt includes chemicals that have affected the only pump on the school campus that students also drink from.

-following alleged chemical pollution
By Joseph Titus Yekeryan in Bong–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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