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Why is it that a government would step into a pollution case and ask the local residents not to pursue legal action? Instead the Liberian government urged arbitration. Ok I guess, but 2 years since the pollution at the Firestone Rubber Plantation on the edge of Monrovia nothing has changed. They've built community buildings and improved the roads except they haven't stopped the pollution. Wouldn't that be the first thing they should do?
We went with two journalists from Power TV, to update the story. When we arrived at the village of Kparn Yah it didn't take long for someone to call the local chief and have him come down to meet us. In the waiting time we wandered back to the stream, which still appears a cloudy colour. We spoke to local residents who have complaints of stomach ailments and of the smell of the water. Of course there are new wells, but they still take the water from the underground aquifer. So it's still polluted. While we where there a local Firestone crew was chlorinating a well. Great, nice patch work, but why wouldn't they address the problem, and get rid of the pollution. I guess I'm missing something, but I'm a little thick sometimes.
When we went back to meet our driver and truck, (more on that later), we finally had an audience with the local chief who said that things are fine and improving. Just that it's a four year plan. He was well dressed, well spoken, (read: well-briefed,) and it was clear that if we had spoken to him first we would have been given the boot.
We headed off to get some pictures of the source of the pollution and shoot Henry's on camera. Well it wasn't long before security showed up and said we where trespassing and there are rules. Apparently the public road isn't public. We had what we needed and headed off.
Next stop the EPA. They apparently have no comment as it is a Presidential committee that is in control. They have no background, and no interest in this pollution. Let me get this right; the EPA doesn't look at pollution? Me thinks there is a problem here.
The boys of Power TV filed their update and it was well-received. They texted us at 7:30 am the next day to see what we where up to and what they could work on with us today.
All in all a very interesting exercise in local reporting here in Liberia.