Ghana’s EPA says transformers with PCBs are harmful to humans
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started a programme to eliminate transformers and capacitors that contain a chemical called Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) which has been identified as harmful to human health.
The PCBs are a kind of oil found in transformers and capacitors, and are usually used in the industrial sector.
They have been identified as containing chemicals responsible for causing health hazards like cancer. In addition the oil can seep into the soil to contaminate ground water.
Mr Daniel Amlalo, Deputy Executive Director at the Environmental Protection Agency, explained that Ghana had signed an international agreement called the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which aims at protecting human health and the environment from chemicals such as PCBs.
“The Environmental Protection Agency has the responsibility of implementing global and national programmes on sound environmental management in Ghana,” he said, stressing that one of the priority issues identified was the elimination of PCBs.
In accordance with the Stockholm Convention, Ghana should not have any transformer or capacitor that contains PCBs by the year 2015.
The project has started with a workshop aimed at building the capacity of stakeholders who are mainly involved in the importation and use of transformers and capacitors.
The project is jointly supported by the United Nations Institute Training Research (UNITAR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
Mr Amlalo said for Ghana to be able to achieve the goal of eliminating transformers with PCBs there was the need for concerted efforts from institutions like the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Volta River Authority (VRA).
He expressed the hope that all national institutions would do their best towards achieving the objective of the project.
Professor Philip Owiredu Yeboah, Lecturer at the Graduate School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences, who chaired the workshop, said the PCBs were scattered in many places including hospitals, schools and market places thus putting everybody at risk.
He said some entrepreneurs even buy the PCBs oil from the VRA and ECG to be used in making hair pomade for women.
Stakeholders gathered identified the lack of funding as the potential obstacle that could prevent the project from achieving its objective.
Mr Peter Asibey, an official from ECG said it would be difficult for the company to change all transformers with PCBs within the limited time.
He explained that some transformers being used in Ghana had been in use since the 1950s, and said the ECG, currently, did not have the capacity to even test transformers with PCBs.