The EPA was part of the joint team responding to a case of a fatality and sick workers employed at the mines located in Matthews Ridge, Region One. EPA’s objectives included:
- To determine the influence of the environment on the death of one miner and severe illness of two others occurring on March 30, 2019;
- To conduct a Preliminary Risk Assessment in order to determine the potential human and ecological risks from the activities of GMI Manganese Mine.
Subsequent tests by the relevant authorities confirmed cases of histoplasmosis, a disease typically transmitted through inhalation or dermal contact with infected excreta of bats, birds and rats. It was highlighted that potential risk of disease correlates with mode and length of exposure. This, therefore, would also guide future recommendations for the site. Senior Environmental Officer, Ms Camille Adams during a joint press conference noted that the Company was engaged in the Environmental Authorisation process, and full assessment of the proposed operation was still underway at the time of the emergency. Other authorities including the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Social Protection, noted the failure to utilize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by the workers while cleaning some tunnels, leading to them coming in contact with the pathogenic spores fungus.