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General News of Sunday, 18 June 2006

Source: GNA

WACAM disquieted by another BGL Cyanide Spillage

Accra, June 18, GNA 96 Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) has appealed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to sanction Bogoso Gold Limited, a subsidiary of Golden Star Resources, a Canadian/US mining company, for its cyanide spillages. WACAM said it was disappointed that the EPA had not been able to impose effective sanctions on the BGL for the previous cyanide spillages.

A release signed by Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng; Executive Director of WACAM, observed that last Friday=92s cyanide spillage into the Ajoo stream, a tributary of the River Apepre that served the Dumasi Community and surrounding villages, was the second such accident within less than two years.

It said the BGL had not done enough to stop cyanide spillages because it had always had an easy way out of such environmental accidents whenever they occurred.

The latest spillage of cyanide tailings into River Apepre that flows into River Ankobra caused the death of fishes and lobsters. The release said about 30 community members, who drank the water or ate the fishes and lobsters, were complaining of dizziness; headaches; stomach ache; loss of appetite; itching tongue and skin itches. Those affected included 10 years old Naomi Asabre; Regina Asabre, 12; Master Joseph Asabre, 16; Kofi Gyatua and Adu Isaac. The BGL supplies water through tanker service to the 3,000 residents of Dumasi, a situation which compels some of them to resort to the use of the water from the River Apepre.

WACAM has, therefore, called on the BGL to provide sustainable water supply systems for Dumasi and its surrounding villages since its operations had destroyed a number of streams in the area including Abodwese; Benyaa; Wurawura; Nyaboah and Nana Akyesua, a sacred stream of the people.

WACAM drew attention to the fact that cyanide spillages were serious environmental accidents that should attract the attention of the general public since they had long term effects.

=93WACAM is of the opinion that BGL has not learnt any lesson from the previous cyanide spillages because it has an easy way out of the problem through community manipulation that divides the ranks of the people and the exploitation of the weak regulatory framework, which does not hold mining companies accountable for environmental accidents like cyanide spillage.

The release said WACAM had 93expected that the nation would use the opportunity of developing a new mining law to regulate surface mining 96 one of the worst polluting industrial activities in world - but contrary to this the New Minerals and Mining Act; Act 703 of 2006 did not address the important problem of cyanide spillage. =93Rather the law provides for a stability agreement - section 48 of Act 703- where a holder of a mining lease would not be adversely affected by a new endorsement for 15 years. By implication, the mining companies are guaranteed an easy way out of cyanide spillages for 15 years.

"The mining communities are to bear the brunt of the gaps in our mining laws, which are supposed to remain in favour of the mining companies for 15 years," WACAM said.

The release called on the Government to investigate BGL operations, which were bringing untold hardships on communities like Prestea; Himan; Dumasi; Brakwa Line and Kojokrom.

"BGL must commit itself to the development of a genuine popular consultation process with communities affected by it operations instead of the manipulative strategies that end up dividing the communities. " BGL should adequately compensate communities and individuals affected by its cyanide spillages.=94

There was a cyanide spillage at BGL tailings dam at Bogoso on Friday.

This has polluted the Ajoo Stream, a tributary of Apepre stream, which serves as the main source of water of the Dumasi community. Consequently, some dead fishes and lobsters were collected from the stream at Dumasi.

This time, a joint on the main tailings returning pipe, carrying tailings from the processing plant into the tailings dams, was disengaged and cyanide-laden tailings poured into the external environment.

The General Manager, Mr Bruce Higson-Smith, corroborated the story describing it as an unfortunate incident that had been remedied. He said investigation on the spillage was ongoing and the full report would be released to the public very soon.

During an interaction between Ghana News Agency (GNA) with the Dumasi Community, an Opinion Leader and the Chief Farmer, Mr Justice Oppong said the incident happened on Friday night and at daybreak some farmers, who were not aware, fetched some of the water and used it. He said a number of fishes and lobsters, which were alleged to have been killed by the cyanide, had been kept for analysis. Meanwhile, Tarkwa EPA Office said it had taken some samples of water, fishes and sediments for analysis and would continue to monitor the situation.

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