Home Economy EPA Gets Tough ….Shutdown Fengshou International; Fines East International US$55,000, for Pollution, Others

EPA Gets Tough ….Shutdown Fengshou International; Fines East International US$55,000, for Pollution, Others

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By: Frank P. Martin

MONROVIA: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has taken strong disciplinary measures against several construction and mining companies operating in the country for their involvement in violation of several environmental laws of the country.

Addressing a news conference on Tuesday, February 5, 2024, EPA Acting Executive Director, Dr. Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo, named East International, Fengshou International, and Quetz Mining Companies that are in gross violation of EPA laws.

For East International Company, the EPA Executive Director disclosed that on Monday, February 26, 2024, a team of environmental technicians investigated the ongoing construction activities of the company along the Monrovia- Roberts International Airport (RIA) road.

He said the investigation was initiated after several complaints and outcries by the public, as well as an invitation extended by The House of Representatives Joint Committee on Public Works & Rural Development and Health, for the company to address issues relative to toxic dust which is causing sicknesses along the RIA road project area.

“The objective of this assessment was to conduct an air quality assessment at random points along the construction area, initiate physical inspections, and gather residents’ views about the dust pollution situation,” said, Dr. Yarkpawolo.

According to the EPA Boss, findings of said assessment show that East International company’s current permit issued by EPA has expired and the company has a series of occupational health and safety issues.

“There is no record of quarterly and terminal monitoring reports submitted by the company to the EPA. The company has not put in adequate personnel protective equipment for the workers among other violations.

Additionally, East International does not follow regulations.”

“Therefore”, he averred, “the company is in violation of Part III Section 6 of the Environmental Protection and Management Law of Liberia (EPML) and Section 37 of the EPA Act (2003).”

He said East International company emits three times particulate Matter 2.5 or PM2.5, which is a dust particle that can easily be inhaled and causes some respiratory problems, more than the WHO recommended limit.

“This is a violation of Part IV Section 36 of the Environmental Protection and Management Law of Liberia. Failure to regularly suppress dust along the road corridor: This violates Section 5.2 count 9 of the Environmental permit, and is subject to punitive measures consistent with Section 112 of the EPML,” he added.

Yarkpawolo: “ In lieu of these violations, East International is hereby fined Fifty-five Thousand ($55,000.00) United States Dollars to be paid in Government Revenue at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) with an official receipt presented to the EPA within 72 hours of the receipt of the official fined letter from the EPA. East International is also requested to renew its expired permit and follow all the environmental protection laws of Liberia.”

For Fengshou International Company, the EPA Boss narrated that the EPA investigated the activities of Fengshou International, an affiliate of East International, which operates a rock quarry in Ben’s Town, Margibi County.

According to him, the report from the investigation showed that Fengshou unsustainably backfilled a portion of the Marshall wetland without reference to the EPML.

Yarkpawolo: “Fengshou International backfilled and constructed a 2 km road within the Marshall wetland. Fengshou International extended its rock quarry into the wetland. Fengshou International backfilled and constructed a rock sale point within the wetland. These acts by Fengshou International violate Part VI Section 75 of the EPML, which calls for the protection of rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Consequently, the Fengshou International rock quarry is hereby ordered closed until a more sustainable method is approved by the EPA.”

At the same time, the EPA boss said the Quetz Mining Corporation, Inc. has been engaged into illegal mining of black sand or zircon within the New West Point Community, in Brewerville, Montserrado County.

He said this investigation was predicated upon media alert, and complaint filed at the EPA, relative to the unsustainable mining activities, and its likely impacts of exposure to nearby residents due to the threats of coastal erosion.

“The investigation, which was also initiated on February 26, 2024, by a team of environmental technicians, identified several issues of violations,” he noted.

Yarkpawolo: “Findings of the report identified that Quetz Mining Corporation Inc, a company partly owned by a Liberian, is heavily involved in the mining, buying, and processing of zircon at their facility without any authorization from the EPA. The findings also established wanton issue of environmental degradation taking place along the coastal habitat of New West Point Community and the facility of Quartez Mining: Quartez does not have a permit from the EPA; Quartez conducts unsustainable beach sand mining along the coast; Quartez unsustainably processes zircon; Quartez is facilitating unsustainable beach sand mining by locals for sale to Quertz Mining company; Quartez improperly manages and discharges mine wastewater and tailings within the coastal zone.”

He said these actions by the management of Quetz contravene Part III Section 6 of the EPML and Section 37 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act.

Yarkpawolo: “In lieu of these violations, the Management of Quetz Mining Company, Inc. was fined Two Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety-nine United States Dollars (USD 2,999.00) to be paid in Government Revenue at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) with an official receipt presented to the EPA within 72 hours as of the receipt of the official fined letter from the EPA. Moreover, a “restoration order” with a cost not less than Twelve Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety-nine $12,999.00 United States Dollars will be instituted and communicated to the Management of Quartez mining company.”

He said the EPA will conduct a thorough engagement with relevant institutions of government and other stakeholders to curtail the upsurge in the wave of wetland degradations.

“Recent complaints and EPA field assessment reports have highlighted massive clearing of mangroves along the Police Academy SKD Boulevard, as well as backfilling activities, including Pago’s Island, New Matadi Fanti Town, Dixville, Jacob Town, etc. As the EPA has already mapped out twenty (20) communities where wetlands are severely under threat, we also wish to use this medium to encourage the public to kindly cooperate with the EPA in prohibiting violators from abusing these wetlands, while the EPA will be engaging with relevant law enforcement authorities to arrest all violators. As you may be aware, in the event of a flood outbreak those who reside in the immediate proximity of these wetlands are the ones worst affected,” he disclosed.
Yarkpawolo informed journalists that the EPA has also dispatched a team of technicians to probe into the situation that recently occurred at Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC).

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