EPA must intervene; we’re dying – Workers at Tema Free Zones steel factories

EPA must intervene; we’re dying – Workers at Tema Free Zones steel factories
Source: Ghana | Charles Ayitey | JoyBusiness
Date: 03-07-2019 Time: 04:07:13:pm
Pollution at steel factories at the Tema Free Zones enclave

Investigations by JoyBusiness on smoke emissions by some steel factories at the Free Zones enclave show that not only is the development polluting the atmosphere but also endangering the lives of factory workers exposed to the fumes.

Upon visiting some steel factories at the Free Zones enclave in Tema, one is met with plumes of smoke. 

The thick smoke darkens the environment making it hard to see or breathe.

Some workers of MND Metals Co Ltd, who are mostly victims of the pollution, complained to Joy Business, of respiratory issues. One such worker, Felix, narrated how he “visited the hospital frequently since starting this job”.  Other workers also claimed of “coughing blood” and “feeling week” after hours of working in such a polluted environment.

“We need the EPA to intervene, we are dying of smoke. Our health is failing,” Fred, a worker dealing in scraps lamented.

When you drive by the said area, the smell can be overwhelming. Factory pollution is often thought of as those most visible and smelly smokestack emissions. 

While you can't visibly see all pollutants, once they enter the atmosphere or the water system; they can spread far and wide beyond the factory. Factories contribute to water and land pollution by acidifying rain, chemical spills and disposal of toxic waste.

Photos and videos that were taken of the development show smoke engulfing the area so bad that one could barely see through. Some workers are seen wearing nose masks to ease with the density of smoke being inhaled.

Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) action

Information picked up at the office of the Acting Executive Director for the EPA, Acting Executive - John A. Pwamang, indicate that “letters have been served manufacturing companies flouting environment regulations to either shut down or comply” and yet these safety regulations are being flouted.

Health publications have shown that the presence of chemicals, particulates or biological compounds in the atmosphere can harm human and animal health and damage the environment.

Factories and other industrial installations have caused such pollution since the dawn of the industrial age by burning fuels, carrying out chemical processes and releasing dust and other particulates and Ghana is no exception.

Ghana ranked 124 in the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) which ranks 180 countries on environmental health and ecosystem vitality. What this means is that the country has performed poorly when it comes to being environmentally safe.

Poor air quality kills people. Worldwide, bad outdoor air caused an estimated 4.2 million premature deaths in 2016 out of which about 90 per cent of them are in low- and middle-income countries like Ghana. That’s according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In Ghana, WHO estimates that air pollution from all sources caused about 28,000 deaths in 2016, over 4,000 of them being children under the age of 16. In the Greater Accra Region alone, outdoor pollution caused some 2,000 deaths in 2017, the WHO asserts.