“It has become clear that it is the water that makes us sick”
Swedwatch telephone interview with G. Mondyou P. Garmondeh, Chairman of Concerned Citizens' Advocacy for the Protection of the Ancestral Land (CCAPAL), Owensgrove. The interview was carried out in February 2021 as a part of the Swedwatch report Murky Waters - Environmental and human rights impacts of natural rubber processing in Liberia, an investigation of environmental pollution in the vicinity of Firestone Libera´s rubber processing plant in Owensgrove.
How has your community been affected by the Firestone plant?
You were here to investigate the water and air pollution around the Farmington river ... As we speak you would not stand the air pollution we are having here, even for me and I am used to it ... When you come to the riverbank you see the dirty water ... The air pollution and the smell of the factory makes you sick and gives you headaches. The air is highly polluted, and the water is highly polluted. There is no way Firestone can deny … It is clear cut.
How long has this been going on?
For a very long time. People never knew if pollution comes from Firestone ... We have running stomachs, we have to go to the hospital, it has become clear that it is the water that makes us sick ... If you ask those people what is the cause? The cause of the water pollution is Firestone ... The water is polluted. People have come to help us, to test the water and air. People have come to document it again and again. A lot of youth, women and children are still affected and make the same allegations.
What do you want the authorities and the company to do now?
Thank you for the question. The question is very fine. You are speaking to an individual now … I cannot speak for everyone … These pollution things are in the air. But there are other communities that are affected by the pollution of Firestone … What we can do is document complaints to prove … and forward that documentation to Green Advocates.
Is there anything else you want to add?
The pollution of Farmington river and air pollution caused by Firestone has been documented again and again, has been proven by documents by men, by women and youth. We are not afraid to stand [up] to Firestone, to the Liberian government, to the international community to tell them that. It is proven. Firestone cannot deny the allegations. We tell Firestone that our water has been damaged again and again ... If you have the chance to come … Your heart would be broken.