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General News of Sunday, 21 March 2010

Source: GNA

Mining companies pollute 250 rivers with cyanide -Wacam

Accra, March 21, GNA - A research commissioned by Wacam, human rights and mining advocacy nongovernmental organisation (NGO), on water quality in mining communities around Obuasi and Tarkwa revealed that 250 rivers had been polluted by cyanide and heavy metals.

The mining operations of Golden Star Resources (Bogoso/Prestea) Mine has polluted and destroyed six rivers around Dumase namely Aprepre; Wurawura; Akyesua; Pram; Nana Nyabaa and Nsu Abena and two rivers in Twigyaa, a release from Wacam and eight other civil society organisations to mark World Water Day, which falls on Monday 22nd March 2010, has said. The release, which was signed by Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director of Wacam, on behalf of the other eight civil society organisations, said the operations of AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi Mine has polluted about 12 rivers in Sanso and many communities in Obuasi and areas such as Odumase and Fenaso did not have access to clean water.

It said similarly AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Limited has completely buried rivers Awura, Atibri and Betihini with mine rock waste while cyanide seepage from the Tailings Storage Facilities of the Company has polluted rivers such as Achofoe, Angonaben and Bromenasu.

The release said "seepage from the tailings storage facility of Anglogold Ashanti Iduapriem Limited for example necessitated the closure of two such facilities by Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in February 2010," adding that the activities of "Galamsey" operators also led to the pollution of rivers and water bodies..

Wacam said mining was depriving mining communities of access to clean water and this had implication for the health status of the people since the ingestion of cyanide and heavy metals in rivers for long periods could lead to many serious health problems for the people living in mining communities. It said: "We recognise that access to clean water is a human right and the pollution of rivers by mining operations constitutes a violation of the rights of the mining communities to clean water and environment.

"Forest Reserves serve as the watersheds for many rivers and we call on government not to allow mining in Forest Reserves. We call on government to demonstrate its commitment to the ideals of the theme of the 2010 Water Day celebration, "Clean Water for a Healthy World" by revoking the Mining Lease granted Newmont Ghana Gold Limited to mine in Ajenua Bepo Forest Reserve. "Ghana should not make the celebration of the Water Day, rhetoric and a celebration with no political commitment to protect our water resources," the release said adding; "we thus call on regulatory agencies to be proactive in preventing pollution of rivers by mining operations and to provide timely information on pollution of water bodies to affected communities".

The civil society organisations are; Dialogue and Advocacy for Good Governance (DAGG) - Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference; Youth for Action Ghana (YAG); Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA); Centre for Labour Rights and Community Services (CLARCS) and Voices of Tomorrow Leaders Foundation (VOTOLEAF).

The others are; Center for Public Interest Law (CEPIL); Concerned Farmers' Association of Teberebie and Concerned Citizens Association of Prestea.

Every year, 1,500 cubic kilometres of wastewater are produced globally. While waste and wastewater can be reused productively for energy and irrigation, it usually is not.

In developing countries 80 per cent of all waste is being discharged untreated, because of lack of regulations and resources. And population and industrial growth add new sources of pollution and increased demand for clean water to the equation.

Human and environmental health, drinking and agricultural water supplies for the present and future are at stake, still water pollution rarely warrants mention as a pressing issue. To do something about that UN-Water has chosen Clean Water for a Healthy World as theme for World Water Day 2010. The overall goal of the World Water Day is to raise the profile of water quality at the political level so that water quality considerations are made alongside those of water quantity.

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