The Deputy Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA), Hon. Randall M. Dobayou has told a gathering in Monrovia that burial of municipal solid waste can cause leachate pollution of surface and ground water, resulting into disastrous health and environmental consequences especially if the waste contains toxic substances.
He said besides surface and ground water contamination, waste burial also has the ability to affect soil quality and reduce agriculture yield.
Hon. Dobayou made the statement on 5 June 2019 at the celebration of World Environment Day at the SKD Sport Stadium in Paynesville. He is the full text of Hon. Dobayou.
World Environment Day Statement- Randall M. Dobayou II, Acting Executive Director-EPA
All Protocol Observe
As we celebrate this year world Environment day under Global theme “Air Pollution” and Local theme “Clean Air, Good Health”, the EPA asks all Liberians to Collectively safeguard the Environment by enhancing sustainable Environmental Practices. The EPA assures all Liberians and our partners that we are committed to ensuring quality environment, good health and a decent well-being for all residents in Liberia. We have raised public awareness and seek to promote understanding of the essential linkages between socio-Economic development and environmental protection with the key objective that environmental knowledge to all Liberian becomes an integral part of the education system. Over the years through our Departments of Inter-Sectoral Coordination, Compliance and Enforcement and the National Adaption Project; have robustly encouraged the participation of the Civil Society, NGOs, CBOs, various Municipalities and the Private sector in the proper management of our precious environment. Honoring our commitment to the public, on July 5,2018 we trained stakeholders from across the country on the Basel Convention which speaks of the control of transboundary movement of hazardous waste and their disposal. The intent was to build public resistance to hazardous waste and strengthen them to combat “toxic trade”. The EPA has also finalized 4 (four) key Regulations: The Burial Regulation, Fumigation Guideline, Water Quality Regulation and The procedure for Cyanide Handling. The aim of these regulations is to strengthen the Agency’s regulatory mandate while ensuring sustainable environmental protection and management. Few days ago through our Ozone unit, the Agency donated assorted equipment worth 12,000 USD to enhance MVTC training capacity in the area of refrigeration and air conditioning technicians to avoid the misuse of earth ozone depleting substances. With Support from the UNDP, we also conducted two days training to stakeholder in Bassa. Such training provided the requisite knowledge and skills to properly handle and recycle plastic for their economy benefit.
However, As we celebrate this year’s World Environment Day considering our local theme, Clean Air, Good Health; it is important to indicate that the EPA is particularly alarm by the increasing rate of unsustainable disposal of municipal solid waste, the pollution of our coastal waters and runoff from raw sewage, and the burning of plastic and other waste. Whilst it is true that solid waste management remains a formidable challenge in our country, the EPA believes we can sustainably dispose our waste thus avoiding major public health crisis as we maintain cleaner air.
Burial of municipal solid waste can cause leachate pollution of surface and ground water, resulting into disastrous health and environmental consequences especially if the waste contains toxic substances, or if nearby water sources are used for water supply. Besides surface and ground water contamination, waste burial also has the ability to affect soil quality and reduce agriculture yield. Considering that the plastic generated in Liberia waste stream constitute about 60%, direct burial of waste into the ground will result into the depletion of soil nutrient by clogging stomata in the soil, prohibiting the growth of plants.
The Agency is also asking citizens to stop the burning of waste as it poses an even greater health and environmental risk to everyone. Open burning of waste can result into the direct release of smoke and toxic fumes into the atmosphere affecting the environment.
As the statutory authority charged with the responsibility of ensuring the protection of the environment and sustainable management of natural resources across Liberia; the Agency conforms to the practice of the “polluters pays principle” which maintains that those who cause pollution should bear the cost of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment. I therefore emphasis strongly that the agency consistent with the EPML of 2003, will apprehend people whose activities are gear towards environmental degradation, air pollution, and the illegal disposal garbage inconsistent with section 62 of the EPML.
In view of this year’s world Environment day, the EPA cautions all well-meaning Liberians and residents of the city of Monrovia and other cities to avoid venturing into unsustainable waste management practices. We avail ourselves to continuously work with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the proper information is provided as we strive collectively for environmental sustainability for now and successive generation.