Regional News of Saturday, 28 September 2013
Dr Bernice Adiku Heloo - Deputy Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, has said there are currently no specific regulations pertaining to Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs) in Ghana.
She said although there is currently no specific legislation on PCBs and PCB-containing equipment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Act, 1994 (Act 490) has adequate provisions for the control and management of hazardous chemicals.
She said Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as PCBs are highly toxic substances released into the environment through human activity, which cause an array of adverse effects, notably diseases and birth defects among humans and animals.
She said they remain intact in the environment for long periods, widely distributed throughout the environment, accumulate in fatty tissues of living organisms including humans, found in higher concentrations at high levels in the food chain, and are toxic to both humans and wildlife.
Dr Heloo said this in a speech read on her behalf by Dr Sylvester Anemana, Chief Director of the Ministry, at a high level sensitization programme on the management of PCBs in Ghana.
She said while the manufacture of PCBs has ceased, their potential or actual release into the environment have not, since significant quantities of them continue to be in use or in storage.
She said PCBs have been employed in a multitude of applications including as dielectric fluids in transformers and capacitors, in heat transfer and hydraulic systems.
The Deputy Minister said: “Inventories on production, export, import, use and distribution of PCBs and PCB-containing equipment were first compiled in 2003 and this indicated that the Electricity Company of Ghana as well as the Volta River Authority and their clients including manufacturing industries, mining companies and hotels are the major custodians of PCB-containing equipment, power transformers and capacitors in the country.
“The data was further refined by a nationwide transformer inventory conducted in 2006, based on these findings, the Ghana PCBS project assumed an estimated 12,000 transformers to be sampled and analyzed,” she said.
Dr Heloo said Ghana in an effort to meet its obligation under the Stockholm Convention on POPs, through the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), applied for the Global Facility to implement the Ghana project on Capacity Building for the elimination of PCBs.
She said the project aims at strengthening the capacities and capabilities of stakeholders from both government and private sector to identify PCBS, manage existing sources as well as their elimination and destruction.
Dr Heloo called on the media to help create awareness in the public on the adverse health and environmental effects of PCBs, and solicit their cooperation in eliminating PCBs from Ghana.
Mr Daniel Amlalo, Executive Director of the EPA, urged government to pass a law on the control and management of PCBs and other POPs in order to protect the environment and human health.