Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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The Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) has fined Sino Liberia Investment US$ 35,000 for grossly violating the Environmental Protection and Management Law (EPML) of Liberia.

Sino Liberia Investment was found liable for backfilling the Marshall Wetland in Schieffelin, Margibi County, as Marshall Wetland is one of Liberia’s wetlands of international importance under the RAMSAR Convention, which seeks to protect wetlands ecosystems worldwide.

According to an EPA release, the unauthorized backfilling of the Marshall Wetland undermines Liberia’s commitment as a party to the RAMSAR Convention by ensuring sustainable wetland protection and violates section 75 of the EPML.

In a notice to Sino Liberia Investment dated January 30, 2023, the EPA said commencing a project without authorization from the EPA is contrary to Part III, Section 6 of the EPML, and Section 38 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act.

Recently, the EPA temporarily halted Sino Liberia Investment operation for the violation, but the company violated the halt order by damaging the barrier tape erected by environmental inspectors and continuing the construction of a concrete fence within the wetland, amounting to a violation of Section 95, Subsection 3 of the EPML.

“In view of the above counts of violations, the management of Sino Liberia Investment is hereby served with this environmental “restoration order” in keeping with Sections 90, and 91 of the EPML as well as Section 38 of the EPA Act.

The EPA mandates that within 21 days, Sino Liberia shall remediate and prevent further harm to the environment by stopping the backfilling and construction of the fence in the wetland.

The company is also mandated to develop and submit an environmental restoration plan for approval through a third-party independent environmental consulting firm and prohibit further degradation and pollution of the Marshall Wetland.

Sino Liberia Investment is mandated to ensure the full restoration and reclamation of the degraded and polluted wetland ecosystem, and the requirements for the development and implementation of this “restoration order” shall be consistent with Sections 90 and 91 of the EPML.

“The Management of Sino Liberia Investment Quarry is hereby mandated to pay all required costs for ensuring implementation of this “restoration order,” the EPA said in the notice of restoration.

The commencement of the restoration order begins upon the date of receipt of the communication and mandates that Sino Liberia Investment takes the necessary action in keeping with the time stipulated as provided by this order, consistent with the EPML.

According to the EPA, environmental inspectors reserve the right to monitor the implementation of this order in keeping with Section 95 of the EPML and Section 21 of the EPA Act, and by the same token, such power will be granted to officers of the Liberia National Police to ensure enforcement and compliance.

The EPA has mandated Sino Liberia Investment to pay 43 percent or US$ 15,050.00 of the US$ 35, 000.000 fine into government revenue at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) while the remaining 57% or US$19,950.00 shall be paid to the Agency’s account at ECOBANK LIBERIA to cover for the cost of monitoring the restoration of the wetland.

The company is asked to present an official receipt of payment to the EPA within 72 hours as of the receipt of the letter.

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