The National Assembly committee on environment has expressed satisfaction at the operational procedures of the Golden Lead in an exclusive interview with Kerr Fatou.
The environmental watchdog committee which is chaired by Sainey Touray has toured the country, visiting environmental hotspots including the three fish meal factories in Kartong, Sanyang and Gunjur.
“We have discussed with the authorities there (Golden Lead) and we have raised lot of issues on what we have heard and they clarified all other issues,” Suwaibou Touray, the committee’s rapporteur, told Kerr Fatou.
“We toured the whole (Golden Lead) complex and we discovered that they have a treatment plant where they are treating the waste… From face value we are appreciative of what we have seen there.”
But Touray added that the scientific test claims by the community needs further verification.
The operation of the fish meal company has been a subject of discussion for a very long time.
Natives of the coastal villages claimed the companies especially the Golden Lead in Gunjur and Nessim in Sanyang, are polluting the sea.
Activists in Gunjur said they have tested the waste water from the company and confirmed it is polluting the sea.
However, the Golden Lead has always denied such claims.
“The big issue there is the scientific aspect which we cannot verify. There are some people in the community who said they have tested a sample of waste from the firm and it turns out to be contaminated… We saw the treatment plant…,” Touray added.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers have instructed Nessim, the fish meal company operating in Sanyang to cease operation until they have a treatment plant.
“The major problem is at Sanyang which is the Nessim Fish Meal Factory in Sanyang… They do not have a treatment plant and all the emission from the factory goes into the population. Their chimney is very short,” Touray said.
Touray said fisherman also indiscriminately dump fish at the beach and several places in Sanyang which was disturbing for the community.
“What we have discovered there is really an environmental catastrophe,” Touray said.
“All the companies said they are not using chemicals…”
Touray said they have also observed that the activities of the company can lead to over fishing of even catching of juvenile fishes by fishermen.
“We are going to recommended for fisheries to also go there and regulate the fishing…. There is definitely over-fishing,” he said.
Meanwhile, Touray said the dispute over a sand mining quarry at Faraba has presented a particularly serious challenge to the community.
He said they have also asked the company that is operating there to halt operation until they made their recommendations to the environment ministry.
“…The place (Faraba) has three rice growing areas and they have already lost two to sand mining. Once mining is done, we all know they will lose the remaining rice field,” Touray said.
“We recommended to Jula Kay to stop operations until we are able to make our recommendations to the environment ministry.”
The environmental watchdogs ended their country-wide tour on Tuesday in Banjul where they visited the site where coconuts were planted on the beach behind the compound housing the National Intelligence Agency.