House Probes Miners Over Pollution

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The House of Representatives is investigating a mining company over a media report of pollution in the historic Montserrado township of Harrisburg. The House’s Committee on Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Environment investigation wrote Z&C Investment Company, which operates a quarry in Harrisburg, to appear before it on Thursday. “The Decision of the committee to cite you is triggered by a grave report received by the House’s Committee… about the escalating issue of water, air and noise pollution within Harrisburg,” Anthony Williams, head of the committee and Maryland Representative, said in a letter, seen by The DayLight. The committee’s decision comes barely a week after a DayLight report exposed alleged pollution caused by Z&C’s operation. It found the company’s use of explosions was destroying homes, while it backfilled water sources used by residents. Z&C obtained a quarry license from the Ministry of Mines and Energy to quarry rocks on 50 acres near the St. Paul River. “The Committee… has learned that the quarry’s activities have led to significant contamination of water sources in that area… and are also contributing to deteriorating air quality and damages to homes,” Williams’ letter noted. The Committee has asked the company to provide copies of licenses and permits issued by the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Liberia, and other documents to prove compliance. Last year, an environmental audit by Ansumana Environmental Consultancy Inc. contradicted the company’s environmental standing. In its summary, the audit was inconclusive Z&C prevented water and air pollution.  However, it was conclusive the Chinese-owned firm prevented water and air pollution. Also, an environmental audit report incorrectly cited a water quality test by the University of Liberia. The test showed the presence of phosphate, iron and manganese above their accepted levels. The DayLight’s report—including a five-minute video documentary—cited satellite images, physical evidence of pollution and interviews. Residents rued how Harrisburg has changed from a pristine township founded by freed slaves to a repository of rock dust and particles. “The dust is suffering us here, it takes over all the crops and plants that we planted,” Yatta Taylor, who lives about 12 meters away from the plant, told The DayLight. “When we harvest the potato greens or cassava leaf to cook it, you have to wash it more than five times before cutting or [pounding] it to cook.” By Gabriel M. Dixon/ thedaylight.org

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