An annual monitoring report on the operations of ADDAX Bioenergy by Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food (SiLNORF) has revealed that the Swiss ethanol company operating in the North of Sierra Leone had polluted communities within their operational areas.
The monitoring report targeting the period of July 2013 to June 2014 highlighted that “many community members reported their fear of contamination of their water streams and sources by the fertilizers and the herbicides used by ADDAX on their sugarcane fields.” The report went on that, “indeed there is a risk that fertilizers and herbicides are washed away during heavy rains or when ADDAX irrigates the fields because excess irrigation water flows into small water streams that are then used by community members for drinking purposes.
It could be recalled that in 2013 SiLNORF and ‘Bread for All’ took two water samples from two streams that flows out of sugarcane fields close to Mabilafu and Maronko during excess irrigation of water that flowed out of the field into the water stream and the sample were analysed by a laboratory in Switzerland.
The Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food (SiLNORF) annual monitoring report indicates that, “the surface water was polluted by an herbicide called Diuron which was proven to be forbidden in France, due to its toxicity and Eco toxicity because it can affect the ecosystems, habitants and species in several manners.
The European Union banned Diuron in 2007 but allowed it in 2008 in spite of its toxicity and considers it as being part of dangerous substances that will be progressively banned.”
The Switzerland laboratory report according to SiLNORF also mentioned that, “the surface water was polluted by Phosphate in Maronko and Mabilafu thus exceeding for instance, the guideline value of <0.05 mg/l for drinking water applied in Switzerland. Phosphates are coming from chemical fertilizers some of which ADDAX is using.”
In February 2014, SiLNORF and “Bread for All” commissioned French environmental consulting company SAFEGE to conduct a water quality analysis in the region during which 20 water samples were taken. Three herbicides were found in 7 water samples including 5 in water wells and 2 in stream water and that they contained, Ametryn (forbidden in the European Union), Amino methyphosphonic acid (degrading product from Glyphosate) and Diuron.”
According to the African Development Bank 2010 Executive Summary of the Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment on ADDAX in Tunis, the quantity of water required for the project will peak at up 7 cubic meters per second in the driest months (February to April). Moreover the outflow from Bumbuna Dam (upstream of ADDAX) in February-April is 27-28 cubic meters which means that the project can theoretically use 25 percent of the river flow during the driest months raising concerns on the ability for downstream users to withdraw water from river Rokel.
The Health, Safety and Social support manager for ADDAX Bioenergy Clive English in a telephone interview with Awoko Newspaper on the allegations in the reports, said he cannot comment on the issues because according to him, they are in a meeting.
He however promised to give further details of his company’s reaction with regards the allegation of ADDAX polluting Mabilafu and Maronko villages streams water with banned Herbicides.
By Mohamed Kabba