Steel manufacturing company, MND Metals Co Ltd, says it has lost $800,000 to the 2-year long menace of pollution at the Tema Free Zones Enclave. 

Managing director of the company, Mahmoud El-Kurdi, tells JoyBusiness, despite various interventions by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to clamp down on steel factories over breaches in air regulations, the practice persists.

“We have lost so much, close to $700,000 to $800,000 in just 2 years since the air pollution started. We have lost clients and workers and our production lines have reduced drastically.

“We feel shortchanged by the EPA and government who keep overlooking what is happening at the Free Zones. EPA is working but more must be done to secure a safe and healthy work environment for us and workers,” he told JoyBusiness.

Checks from one of the manufacturing company as of March 7, 2020 show pollution persists.  

Shutdown 

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

EPA had given the steel manufacturing firm till the 31st of January to install air pollutant systems 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. 

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 partial closure of United Steel was reconsidered after checks by the EPA shows the steel manufacturing company had fixed its pollution control system. Despite these interventions by the EPA, some steel factory workers say “dark smoke are still emitted and we have no option but to work in these dangerous conditions or risk losing our contracts”.

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.

Improving Surveillance

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has told Joy Business is beefing up surveillance at United Steel and Rider Steel after some pictures and videos cited shows the emission of smoke in contravention of EPA’s directive and air regulations. 

Mr Appah-Sampong said “We are monitoring with the security and will take the necessary actions. There are various things that we can do and we are exploring those. Currently, we are also liaising with the police to ensure they comply.”

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.