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17.04.2008 General News

CSIR research revealsAngloGold Ashanti pollutes creeks at Teberebie…… Farmlands also destroyed from pollution

By Ivy Benson - Ghanaian Chronicle

A RESEARCH conducted on samples of water draining from wastepipes of bungalows occupied by personnel of AngloGold Ashanti Mining Company, in the Western Region, which finds its way into the waterbodies of surrounding communities, in its catchment area, has revealed it to be injurious to human life.

The research conducted last month, by the Water Research Institute (WRI), of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), indicates that the effluents from the waste pipes, which was being discharged into the environment, was heavily contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, making it unsafe for the environment.

In a report dated March 19, 2008, and signed by Dr. J.A. Ampofo, Head of Microbiology of the Environmental Biology and Health Division of the WRI, and released to FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN)-Ghana, an international human rights organisation, stated that “the effluent from the pipes at Mile 5 (bungalows), and Mile 6 (bungalows and offices), supplied for analysis, are not bacteriologically safe to be discharged into the environment, as they are heavily contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, and possibly other micro-organisms.

“It is important for these effluents to receive pre-treatment, before discharging them into the environment.

“In their current state, they can only be used to irrigate crops, sports fields, public parks and trees, but not crops likely to be eaten uncooked. There should no be exposure of these effluents to humans.”

The research was conducted at the request of personnel of FIAN-Ghana, and its Australian counterparts, who got samples of the effluents from the wastepipes, as they traced its entrance into waterbodies in the surrounding communities, who depend on such sources of water for consumption.

Addressing a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, the Co-ordinator of FIAN-Ghana, Mr. Mike Anane, noted that the activities of AngloGold Ashanti, Iduapriem Mine, in the Western Region, was a gross disrespect and abuse of human rights to food, water and health, guaranteed under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Ghana is signatory.

The Co-ordinator was therefore calling on the government, to halt, what he termed the “irresponsible gold mining operation operations of AngloGold Ashanti, Iduapriem Mine.”

According to Mr. Anane, the government was required by international law, to protect the rights and living standards of people affected by the operations of the Iduapriem Mine, and hold Anglogold Ashanti for the violations of the people's rights.

FIAN-Ghana further noted that Anglogold Ashanti discharged raw sewage into the waterbodies, depended upon by people living at Teberebie, and surrounding communities, dumps waste rock emanating from the mining activities of the mining company on the farmlands of the people, making it impossible for the people to farm, in order to make a livelihood.

This, according to Mr. Anane, posed grave health problems to the people, as there was the possibility of acid drainage in the area, impacting on the quality of both groundwater and surface water, in the communities.

He further called for an independent investigation, to be initiated by the government, into the increasing concerns expressed by the people of Teberebie, and surrounding villages.

Telling their stories, during the media briefing, representatives of Teberebie and surrounding villages, contend that the extent of pollution emanating from the activities of AngloGold Ashanti in the area, on the people is nothing to be desired.

According to them, their farmlands had been taken away from them, by the mining company since 1986, and had they not been adequately compensated, leaving them with no means of livelihood.

The people noted that unemployment was very rife in the communities, as the mining company had failed to engage their services, even though they were enthused to work.

Additionally, they noted that the takeover of their farmlands, had led them to walk eight to nine kilometers to farm, and at certain times have to hide before they farm, as they are harassed by security personnel engaged by the mining company.

They indicated that the activities of the mining company, had made it extremely difficult for their children to go to school, as well as affected their water sources, thereby killing aquatic life.

They noted that the Member of Parliament for Tarkwa, Mrs. Gifty Kusi, and the District Chief Executive of the area, Mr. Kwesi Ayensu, had been petitioned, but there had not been any response from them.

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