Republic of Congo: Suspension of Metssa Congo’s activities must be followed by urgent investigation

Republic of Congo: Suspension of Metssa Congo’s activities must be followed by urgent investigation

Republic of Congo: Suspension of Metssa Congo’s activities must be followed by urgent investigation
Republic of Congo: Suspension of Metssa Congo’s activities must be followed by urgent investigation

Amnesty International

Responding to the Congolese Ministry of the Environment’s total suspension of Metssa Congo’s operations until further notice because of the major risk its recycling plant poses to health and the environment, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said:

“We welcome the decision to suspend Metssa Congo’s operations following the publication of our 4 June report detailing their potential effect on the environment and health of local communities. 

“The authorities must now carry out an urgent investigation into the impact that the Metssa Congo recycling plant is having on the rights of communities who live near the plant’s operations and make that report public. Depending on its findings, remedial measures for residents and the possible relocation of the plant must be on the table.

“As the Republic of Congo plans to diversify its industrial activities, Amnesty International is calling on the authorities to ensure that companies act responsibly and respect their environmental and human rights obligations.”

Background

A group of residents of Vindoulou, in the Pointe-Noire region, had been complaining for years about the fumes emanating from the Metssa Congo recycling plant which produces lead bars for export and is located 50 metres from a school.

Amnesty International’s report, focused on the activities of three industrial companies, showed that Metssa Congo, a subsidiary of the Indian company Metssa, had not carried out any environmental impact assessment before setting up in 2013, in violation of Congolese law. The company claimed to have obtained a licence in 2018 and an environmental compliance certificate in 2023, 10 years after it began operations.

In 2023, blood samples taken from 18 people living near the plant, including children, were analysed by an independent laboratory with the support of Amnesty International. All revealed lead concentrations well above the threshold set by the World Health Organization. The company had claimed that the fumes emanating from its plant were not toxic.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Amnesty International.