Government satisfied with Newmont’s effort after cyanide spillage

Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister for Environment Science and Technology, has said Newmont Ghana Gold Limited had adhered to all the curative orders given after the cyanide spillage in 2009 in Brong Ahafo Region.

“I am satisfied with all that Newmont has done to the affected hamlets since the accidental spill that occurred Tuesday October 2009 at the processing plant of the mine,” she said when she answered questions in parliament on Wednesday.

She said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) upon report of the cyanide spillage set a panel to investigate the matter and found Newmont culpable of negligent in its operation causing the spillage.

Ms Ayittey noted that the panel on the basis of its investigation demanded some measures among which were map out high risk operational areas and heighten surveillance, review incident classification criteria and prompt reporting procedure.

The panel according to her also directed that Newmont should educate staff of environmental response procedures and carry out regular drills and payment of seven million Ghana cedis towards mitigation and ecological enhancement.

She stated that the directive also called on Newmont to submit to EPA its emergency response procedures and incident classification criteria for review and to undertake comprehensive studies on the soils and or sediments within the operational area in order to trace the high sources of metal concentration.

She noted that a team of technical officials led by the Deputy Minister for the Ministry, Mr Omane Boamah visited and inspected the implementation of the directives and could confirm that much had been done.

“With the exception of the soil analysis, which should be done by the end of July 2010, all the other recommendations have been implemented by Newmont Ghana Gold Limited,” she stressed.

A consultant, she explained, was working on the affected communities to carry out Community Need Assessment to enable the necessary action to be taken by the Ministry.

The Minister stated that all areas had been zoned according to risk and plans for risk management developed and high risk areas mapped out and additional patrols implemented round the clock surveillance during shutdowns to improve surveillance.

She said spill handling procedures such as surveillance and equipment handling had been revised and communicated to all relevant staff trained on the new procedures.

Ms Ayittey noted that surveillance updated and inspection of frequency increased adding that cameras have been installed at the emergency containment pond with monitors in the control room to check levels in addition to extra level monitoring equipment.

She stated that emergency spill kits were placed in key areas while a comprehensive study on the soils and sediments within the operational area was underway to trace the high source of metal concentrations.

She said the project scope had been agreed upon with its detailed work plan and contractual agreement formalized. The sampling analysis she added was to commence July this month.

She explained that to provide permanent portable water to the affected communities, a poly tank was provided to communities immediately following the event to ensure constant water supply to the affected hamlets.

According to the Minister the tank was regularly filled from a potable water source adding that a borehole was scheduled to be fully completed in August 2010 for the communities.

Source: GNA

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