MONROVIA, Liberia (Oct. 30, 2009)—Firestone Liberia has countered a government report finding that the processing factory at its natural rubber plantation has polluted nearby water supplies.
The company said its water treatment plant is in full compliance with all Liberian environmental laws and with Firestone's concession agreement with Liberia.
The Liberian government instituted a three-month study of the creeks near the Firestone plantation after residents of the town of Kpanyah complained of developing skin rashes after swimming or wading in the creeks. A committee of government officials, Firestone personnel and local residents collected water samples which were tested both in Liberia and at the American University in Beirut.
The final report from the Liberian Environmental Protection Agency showed the creek water contained unusually high levels of orthophosphate, a food-grade chemical and corrosion inhibitor commonly added to drinking water. The agency called on Firestone to improve its waste water treatment at its plantation.
In a statement, Firestone said it has a multimillion-dollar water treatment facility at its plantation that processes waste water through equalization and clarification tanks and into constructed wetlands on plantation property. The wetlands then empty into the creeks.
“Analytical data and sampling gathered at strategic locations throughout the system have confirmed that the water quality improves with each step in the treatment process and is not harmful to humans or animals when it leaves the wetlands,” Firestone said. “This type of water treatment system is unparalleled in Liberia.”
Firestone promised to fine-tune its waste water operations to reduce phosphate levels and to work with the Liberian EPA to ensure compliance with the country's safe water standards.