Sun, 13 Apr 2008 General News

Miners pollute River Pra


Inhabitants of Beposo and its environs, in the newly created Shama District are faced with the risk of mercury and gas poisoning as a result of the activities of small-scale gold miners in the River Pra.

These communities rely on the Pra for their drinking water and fishing.

A gang of small-scale miners have been operating along the course of the River and thereby polluting it.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, the Western Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ms Irene Heathcote said no one had a permit to operate a mine of any sort in the Pra River and their activities were dangerous to nearby communities.

She said the miners used mercury in their activities adding that if it entered the food chain it could cause cancer in humans.

She explained that mercury residue in sediments on which the fishes and lobsters fed could poison people, who ate them, while those who relied on the River as their sources of drinking water were also at risk.

"No one has a permit to operate in the Pra and the law enforcement agencies must assist the District Assembly to remove them from the area."

She said mercury oxide and other chemicals used for the final extraction of the gold, was harmful; not only for those involved, but others who breathed in the gas during the refining of the metal.

"The act is of concern to us as people drink, bath and eat fishes and lobsters from this River and it must not be allowed to be polluted," she said.

A visit by the GNA to the Township revealed that each gang made up of eight men, dug the riverbed for the sand and washed it on their "floating improvised equipment".

The equipment include electric generators, barrels, water pumping machines and slipper mats used for washing the gold.

The gangs, who were formerly operating at Daboase in the Mpohor Wassa East, were chased away by the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) in February 2008 for polluting the water at its intake treatment plant at Daboase.

They, therefore, moved to settle at Beposo and Dunkwa both in the Shama District. They operate in shifts of four per each gang during the day and at night from Tuesday to Thursday.

Among the communities likely to suffer from the activities of the gangs are Bukorkope, Shama Beach, Atwereboanda, Bosomdo and Shama Krobo.