The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shut down the smelting line of United Steel for breaching air pollution regulations. 

EPA, gave the steel manufacturing firm till the 31st of January to install air pollutant systems so as to minimize pollution of the atmosphere. But upon a visit to the manufacturing site by officials of the EPA and some National Security operatives, it was clear United Steel had not met the deadline. 

The Deputy Executive Director of the EPA, Ebenezer K. Appah-Sampong ordered the shutdown of the production line of the company warning of stringent measures if they failed to comply.

“United Steel asked for an extension of two weeks after the January 31 deadline. But we at the EPA can’t give such an extension. We have come to inspect the premise and even though progress has been made, pollution is still rife.

“To this end, we are directing that the production line of United Steel be shut down until the pollution control system is fixed. Failure to comply will result in severe repercussions,” he stated.

The visit to the Steel smelting site of United Steel follows months of concerns over air pollution in the area. Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), the National Security and the Free Zones Enclave inspected the smelting plant of the company which showed not much had been done to install pollution control system.

From United Steel, the team inspected works at Rider Steel. Here, it was clear much has been done to check air pollution.

This follows investigations by JoyBusiness on how smoke emissions by some steel factories at the Free Zones enclave is not just destroying the environment but also putting the lives of factory workers at risk.

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 of respiratory issues to JoyBusiness.

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.

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.