The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered United Steel and Rider Steel to shut down “with immediate effect” for not complying with Ghana’s environment safety regulations.
This order follows investigations by the regulatory body on how smoke emissions by some steel factories at the Free Zones enclave are not just polluting the atmosphere but also endangering the lives of factory workers there.
Acting Executive Director of the EPA, John Pwuamang confirmed to JoyBusiness that EPA has sent a letter to the management of United Steel.
“We have issued a letter and it has been addressed to the company. What we are doing now is to monitor compliance. This is regulatory work,” he said.
Excerpts from the letter by the EPA shows that “the company was fabricating a pollution control system which they indicated was 70 per cent complete. Also, there was visible particulate/gaseous emissions from the stack of the factory and that a sustained emission of pollutants from their operation with its negative implications for the environment and public health, in spite of the reduced operational capacity of 8 tons per batch (i.e.: 40 percent as per the directive in our directive in our Environmental Notice of 18th July 2019”.
Some steel factory workers at the Free Zones Enclave at Tema had earlier embarked on a demonstration against air pollution in the area.
These workers, all clad in red, called on the government to fast track interventions to clamp down on United Steel for flouting regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which insists that smoke chimneys be elevated to approved levels.
With placards reading; “Toxic emissions is unacceptable”, “People should be held responsible”, “We are dying slowly,” the factory workers complained their lives have been endangered by the emissions.
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.