It would be hasty to conclude fish deaths due to cyanide spillage -EPA

Ms. Sherry Ayitey, Minister for Environment, Science and Technology

It would be hasty to conclude that fish deaths in a water storage facility (WSF) at Newmont Gold Ghana Limited (NGGL) Ahafo Mine resulted from cyanide spillage, a Senior Programme Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said.

Mr. Sylvester Awozum, Senior Programme Officer of the EPA in Sunyani, on Friday, said it would be hasty to conclude that fish-kills (dead fishes) found in the water storage facility in the Asutifi District of Brong-Ahafo Region, resulted from cyanide spillage by NGGL.

He said; “From the initial investigations of the EPA, the cause of the dead fishes cannot be established,” adding, “Our visual appraisal of the water colour of the WSF showed that it was natural, and further, when we went round the facility, we saw that there were live aquatic activities.”

The WSF is a dam constructed to store raw water used at the processing plant of the company, Mr. Awozum explained.

Mr Awozum, who was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Sunyani, after leading a two-man team from the EPA on Friday to conduct initial investigations, confirmed that dead fishes were found in the WSF.

Residents in communities such as Dokyikrom-Tutuka claimed that fish-kills found in the dam resulted from cyanide spillage. They added that the dam was the source of their drinking water.

The Senior Programmes Officer stated that the company’s Community Patrol Team (CPT) found dead fishes, mainly Tilapia, in the WSF on Thursday, saying, after informing the EPA in Sunyani around 17:00 hours, the company then dispatched a team to the site to do preliminary investigations.

He said that team took four water samples from various points of the WSF for analysis, and added that at the first point, 114 dead fishes were found.

Prior to that, the company had taken a sample of water for cyanide analysis at their own laboratory, Mr Awozum said, and, according to the company they did not detect any traces of cyanide in the water.

The WSF, according to the Senior Programmes Officer, “is a restricted zone,” and sign posts have been erected prohibiting entry into that area.

He said: “When our team reached there, we realised that there has been human activity, including digging at some points close to the banks of the WSF. We also found four fishing hooks, suggesting that probably the diggings might have been done to find earth-worms that were used as bait on the hooks for fishing.”

He observed that even though the WSF area was a no entry zone for unauthorised persons, human activities occurred there, since the residents of the communities around trespassed to undertake fishing expeditions.

The Senior Programmes Officer stressed that the EPA had, therefore, asked NGGL to preserve the water samples and some of the dead fishes, for them to conduct further investigations. – GNA

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