General News of Saturday, 12 November 2005
Source: the Servant
Cyanide Waste Spillage In Three Communities
AGA To Compensate Victims
Over 3000 inhabitants living in about three communities within the Obuasi municipality have experienced the most disastrous effect ever associated with spillage of cyanide waste materials.
The three communities namely Abompekrom, Estate and Nkamprom got flooded with overflowing cyanide waste material that spilled over from one of Anglogold Ashanti?s plants at Kokoteasua, a suburb of Obuasi.
Residents of about 40 households whose apartments were flooded complained of having lost several livestock including sheep, goats and fowls as well as property worth millions of cedis.
Not only did the spillage affect the local inhabitants but over flooded the entire vicinity of a private school, Steadfast Academy, compelling school authorities t dismiss pupils immediately owing to the perceived health danger.
When newsmen got to the scene on the morning of Wednesday November 2nd 2005, pupils were seen cleaning the waste from their classrooms some with bare hands oblivious of the health danger Some inhabitants who spoke to journalists said the spillage has occurred several times causing great damage anytime the spillage occurs, yet the management of Anglogold Ashanti has remained insensitive to their plight despite the numerous official and unofficial complainants.
An opinion leader Patrick K. Kudjo told journalists that the continuous spillage has destroyed several crops and water bodies like the Kokoteasua River, not to talk about the respiratory and breathing effects associated with inhalation of the cyanide dust emanating from the dryness of the waste materials. In the Abompekrom community itself, it was learnt that the spillage came about as a result of the failure of the pump machine which aid the transportation of the waste material to the Pompora treatment plant (P.T.P).
The geographically low land set up of the Abompekrom community and the poor drainage system compounded the problem. Three clear days after the spillage, newsmen visited the scene and saw no action from the A.G.A management, as they were only reported to have visited the scenes and left without any concrete action. When management of Anglogold Ashanti was contacted, the general manager in charge of human resources Yiadom Boakye Amposah, referred our correspondent to the community relations superintendent Mr. Elton Annan.
The community officer explained to our reporter that the pump failure was as a result of the activities of some unscrupulous robbers who allegedly caught part of the electric cables that feed the pumps.
The alleged thieves have reportedly been arrested and are in police custody.
He disagreed with the assertion that management have remained insensitive to the plight of the people saying immediate assessment has been made pending concrete assessment by the valuation board after which affected people will be compensated.
He said for now the problem has been rectified and the pump is in full operation.
As an interim measure, Elton Annan said some casual hands have been employed to help inhabitants clean the mess in their residence.
The community superintendent however bemoaned the manner some groups and individuals ignored earlier warnings not to build in nearby water ways, saying such behaviors by such institutions like the Deeper Life Church at Estate and other individuals has compounded the problem.