Sierra Rutile In Court Tomorrow

 

Following a writ of summon by land owners living within the Imperi, Upper and Lower Banta Chiefdom dated 27th January, 2019 against the Sierra Rutile Limited as 1st Defendant and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as 2nd Defendant, through the Law Firm, Garber & Co, the Fast Track Commercial Court at Government Wharf presided over by Hon. Justice Bintu Aladi on Thursday, the 20th of June, 2019 began the preliminary hearing of the matter.

After a marathon legal argument between the Plaintiff lawyer, Maurice R. Gabber and the Defendant lawyer, Bathan Macauley Jr. over claims made by the former, the presiding Judge adjourned the matter to tomorrow, 28th June, 2019.

The plaintiffs are, among other things, alleging various abuses and malpractices with regards Rutile’s failure to rehabilitate their land, the presence of numerous contaminated lakes strewn throughout the land, public nuisance caused by Rutile’s activities, land, sea and air pollution, failure in paying adequate crop compensation, negligence and wrongful death occasioned by villagers and children who drowned in the unprotected contaminated lakes, non-compliance with mine closure obligations, a failure to uphold Rutile’s corporate social responsibility, poor and insufficient community development policy as well as violation of health and safety standards.

The claims essentially revolve around environmental tort violations inflicted by Rutile on the host communities where the said company has its concession and mining activities in contravention of the Laws of Sierra Leone, International Conventions, Common Law Rights and applicable Environmental and Social standards. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also been sued jointly with Rutile for its failure to monitor, regulate, sanction, penalize and ensure compliance by Rutile of environmental best practices and social standards.

This failure by the EPA is alleged to be a violation of their statutory duty of care owed to the mining communities inhabited by Rutile in ensuring that these communities are reasonably safe, with minimal disruption to the lives and livelihood of these citizens.

The remedies sought in the said action against Rutile as 1st Defendant and EPA as 2nd Defendant as contained in the Statement of Claim are as follows:

  1. The plaintiffs claim against the defendants is for damages for gross negligence, negligence, nuisance and reckless misconduct arising from the 1st defendant’s improper ace of mining methods and techniques resulting in pollution and damages to the land area leased to the 1st defendant, and permanent environmental degradation in the sum of $8 million dollars or such other amount as this Court may deem just and proper.
  2. The plaintiffs claim damages against the 1st defendant for wrongful death, loss of life, respiratory diseases and other oilments suffered by the plaintiffs, their children and relatives, caused by the unsafe and dangerous inundated and contaminated lakes spread all over the 1st defendant’s concession area, airborne contaminations, exposure to toxic and effluent materials and the containment of their water veils, streams and lakes in the sum of US$4 million Dollars or such other amount as this Court may deem just and proper.