Mr. Akwasi Oppong-Fosu, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, has inspected a project aimed at protecting human health and the environment by safely disposing harmful polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
The project, which is a joint initiative by Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Global Environmental Facility (GEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is to the environmental presence of PCBs.
Polychlorinated biphenyls are long-lasting, non-biodegradable man-made chemicals, toxic to wildlife and humans. It belongs to a class known as persistent organic pollutants.
Prolonged exposure to the chemical could cause numerous adverse health effects.
They are often used as dielectric fluid in electrical capacitors and transformers but traces could also be found in other electrical gadgets such as armoured underground cables and radio equipment.
The Minister said that the project was part of the Government’s delivery of its responsibility to protect the citizenry.
It was also in fulfillment of Ghana’s international obligations to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, a wide international treaty to control and reduce the presence of PCBs, he said.
Mr. Oppong-Fosu said that moving forward, a draft bill known as the Hazardous Chemicals Bill, would be placed before Parliament to control the importation, usage, and disposal of gadgets containing hazardous chemicals.
“A bill to parliament is the next stage so that next time we are conducting a similar exercise, we will have the full backing of the law,” he said.
The ongoing project at the Electricity Company of Ghana Training School in Tema, which is being executed by Veolia Environmental Services, UK, and the Ezov Environmental Services Ghana, has been identifying and extracting PCBs and storing them in a controlled environment.
According to Mr. Leith Watson, Commercial Manager of Veolia Environmental Services, the stored polychlorinated biphenyls would later be shipped for safe disposal by high temperature incineration in facilities that were able to safely dispose them off, and which were certified and accredited in line with the Basel Convention.
The Minister noted that the project has had the challenge of contending with scrap dealers who out of ignorance put themselves at great risk by scavenging and trading in damaged transformers and transformer oils.
Mr. Nelson Manda of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research said that the project had also put in a mechanism to certify imported gadgets and also to allow customs to detect the presence of PCBs.
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