WACAM Commends EPA

WACAM, a human rights and mining advocacy nongovernmental organisation, has commended the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for boldly stating that the cyanide spillage at the Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL) Ahafo Mine was caused through negligence. A release Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director of WACAM, signed on Wednesday said Mr Isaac Osei, Brong Ahafo Regional Director of EPA, has demonstrated boldness, independence of thought and professionalism, which were the qualities required of a mining regulator. WACAM expressed the hope that he would continue to exhibit such qualities in this difficult period, adding; "it is the expectation of WACAM that the Management of EPA would provide the needed recognition, support and encouragement to Mr Isaac Osei for his dedication to work and environmental protection". WACAM accused Newmont Ahafo Mine of giving contradictory accounts about the cyanide spillage and its impact, pointing out in one press release the Company described the spillage as 'a minor overflow that was contained and neutralised' and then goes on to state that 'the inhabitants of the impacted hamlets have been supplied with alternative fresh water to use' and that 'there was a short-term environmental impact of fish mortality which was also reported by people from the hamlets near the Mine'. The release said to accentuate the contradiction: "Newmont's Regional Manager for Communications stated that only two fishes died in the recent cyanide spillage by the Company when she contributed to a discussion programme on the spillage by Happy FM, (a private radio station) in Accra on 19th October 2009." The release said: "There is enough evidence from the communities, Assemblyman of the Electoral area, chiefs, our activists and others to debunk the claim of Newmont that the cyanide spillage affected only two fishes", adding, "despite the efforts to clean the affected water bodies of the dead fishes as a way of downplaying the impact of the cyanide spillage, many dead fishes were still floating on the rivers five days after the detection of the cyanide spillage." "In cyanide spillages, fish mortality is a good indicator of the magnitude of the spillage and that is why Newmont Ahafo Mine put in every effort to put up the 'two dead fishes' story after it had cleaned the dead fishes from the affected river, the release said.