Monday, September 27, 2010

Civil society condemn Kosmos toxic waste

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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday September 25, 2010
ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATES, civil society organizations and individuals have jointly condemned Kosmos Energy for spilling toxic waste into the sea and allegedly refusing to pay a fine imposed on it by the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST).

Advocates contend that once the report of the committee that investigated the spillage of poisonous substances into the sea by Kosmos Energy concluded that it was caused by negligence and deferment of the preventive maintenance schedule by the company, the oil exploration firm did not need to drag its feet in paying the imposed fine.

The displeasure of environmental groups was contained in a statement issued in Takoradi. It was jointly signed by 14 environmental advocacy and civil society organizations individuals including WACAM under the title “Condemnation of Kosmos Energy for refusal to pay GH¢40 million and describing the Ghana government as lawless.”

It said, “we the under listed organisations and individuals wish to express our surprise, dismay and disappointment about media reports that Kosmos Energy had blatantly refused to pay the 40 million Ghana Cedi fine imposed on the company for negligently spilling pollutants into the sea in the course of its operations.”

“It has been reported in the media that the lawyers of Kosmos Energy, Messrs Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa and Ankomah had written to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to indicate that the 40 million Ghana Cedi fine imposed on Kosmos Energy by the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) for spilling toxic oil-based drilling mud on three occasions from December 2009 to May 2010 is ‘totally unlawful, unconstitutional and legally flawed”

The advocates said the lawyers for Kosmos’statement did not deny that the company spilled toxic substances into the sea but dwelt on weaknesses in the laws with respect to oil spillages as a basis for its position that the fine had no legal foundation adding, “the letter from Kosmos asked for the intervention of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to mediate decisively and bring this lawless procedure to an end.”

The release said further that the attorneys for Kosmos’ description of MEST’s investigative processes into the case and imposition of the fine as lawless amounts to an insult to the dignity of Ghanaians.

“In our opinion, Kosmos Energy is rather the lawless company which negligently spilled poisonous chemicals into the marine environment of Ghana on three occasions in five months and attempted to conceal the truth about the pollution and not the processes initiated by the Minister of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology who is required to protect the sovereignty of Ghana. Kosmos Energy wants to be a law unto itself and this tendency if not checked, would serve as motivation for many companies to follow the bad examples of Kosmos Energy and some companies in the extractive sector.”

Besides WACAM those who signed the release include the Center for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), Centre for Labour Rights and Community Service (CLARCS), Youth for Action Ghana, Dialogue and Advocacy for Good Governance of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA).

The rest are Foundation for Female Photo Journalists (FFP), Voices for Tomorrow Leaders Foundation (VOTOLEAF), Teberebie Concerned Farmers Association, Youth and Concerned Citizens’ Movement of Bonyere, Klo-Begoro Farmers Association, Concerned Citizens Association of Prestea, Osagyefo Network for Rural Development (OSNERD) and Prof. Atta Britwum.

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