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Health News of Thursday, 6 December 2012

Source: Philip Kofi Ashon

Kumasi Health Alert: Poor storage caused health hazard - EPA

Principal Program Officer of the EPA, Omanhene Kwaku Boateng in the Ashanti Region has revealed that the current health hazard that has hit the Ashanti Region was caused by poor storage of chemicals.

In an interview with Citi FM in Accra, the EPA official noted that per their investigations, "the chemical was cleared at the Tema Port, they have acquired their license and they brought it to their warehouse here (Kumasi). The problem came from how they piled it at their warehouse."

"It was found out that it was some of these chemicals they call it Dimitrate that is used for spraying insects. I think they took deliver from the ports just some few days back and when they brought them to their warehouse, the quantity was so much that the piling up at the warehouse has caused this problem. They were stored on the bare floor and the weight on those at the base was so great that it caused spillage of those cans at the base of the pile."

According to him, his office was informed of the situation on Wednesday after which a series of investigations were initiated.

The EPA official also recounted his own personal experience of the situation when "around 11 PM last night, that i also had the impact and it was very suffocating. Very dangerous and difficult to breathe through."

Citi Fm's Ashanti Regional Correspondent, Betty Ohemaa Agyemang reports that the fumes from the chemicals have spread into several parts of the Region including Kumasi, Tanoso, Abuakwa, Manhyia and others.

She reported that with the situation intensifying on Wednesday night, several asthmatic patients have been rushed to the hospital due to the severity of the situation.

A resident of Atwima Boko who spoke to Citi Fm on condition of anonymity said "a warehouse of a certain company has been storing chemicals. We are not sure if the expiry dates of the chemicals are up. The warehouse has not even been opened and yet this is the smell coming out of it."

He mentioned that "the smell is very outrageous. Cars have been conveying people from the place to nearby hospitals in nearby towns. You can’t smell anything. If you cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or anything, it still penetrates and I wonder what the people in charge of keeping the environment clean are doing."

"There are security personnel at the gate just relaxing and doing their own thing so I’m wondering the kind of people they are because the smell has taken over the whole city of Kumasi. Some people passed out yesterday from the smell because of respiratory diseases like asthma. When the smell came, they all fell down."

"Some of the young guys were very furious because nothing has been done about the issue for about a month. the keys are with the owner who is nowhere to be found so they wanted to break down the building," he lamented.

Meanwhile, Deputy Regional Minister for the Ashanti Region, Madam Anima Wilson, has called on residents in the Ashanti Region to stay clear of the area because of the volatility of the situation.

She has also called on residents to desist from politicizing the situation and treat it as a health alert.