The Environmental Protection Agency has urged government to pass a law on the control and management of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and other Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in order to protect the environment and human health.
Mr Daniel Amlalo, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said: “POPs are organic chemicals, which degrade slowly hence they have a tendency to persist in the environment long after being used.
He said a nationwide inventory of transformers and capacitors is needed to determine the PCB status of the dielectric fluids (fluids used in regulating temperatures of transformers).
Mr Amlalo said PCBs are found and used in several applications including hydraulic equipment and they also serve as plasticizers in paints, plastics and rubber products.
He said they are also found in pigments dyes and carbonless copy paper adding that several appliances older than 1978 are more likely to contain PCBs.
“Due to their ability to persist in the environment for long periods of time, they manage to find their way into the food chain; and are easily absorbed in fatty tissues, where the concentration levels can reach up to 70,000 times more,” he said.
Mr Amlalo made the call on Thursday in Accra in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Samuel Anku, Deputy Director of the EPA, at a high level sensitization programme on the management of PCBs in Ghana.
The Executive Director said PCBs are being phased out of use under the Stockholm Convention on POPs of which Ghana is a signatory.
He said Ghana is currently implementing a project on Capacity Building for the Elimination of PCBs in the country, which seeks to protect human health and environmental quality by avoiding human and environmental exposure to PCB oil and PCB-contaminated oil, particularly from transformers and capacitors.
Mr Amlalo said the project which is jointly supported by his Agency, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and Global Environment Facility, aims at strengthening the capacities and capabilities of stakeholders from both government and private sector to identify PCBS, manage existing sources as well as eliminating and destroying them.
He said the project is implementing a strategy that would move the nation from the current unsustainable management of PCB-containing equipment to sound management and disposal practices.
Mr Amlalo said the strategy includes strengthening the legal framework and the management capacity both within government institutions and among PCB holders.
He said subsequent strategies for managing the PCB oils and PCB-contaminated equipment would be implemented to ensure that Ghana completely eliminates PCBs from the country.
He said: “Without appropriate policy and legal framework in place, it would be difficult to sustain the gains that would be made from the project.
“I am therefore, very glad that a draft policy on POPs and a draft bill for the control and management of POPs/PCBs have also been developed under the project,” Mr Amlalo said
Mr John Pwamang of EPA Ghana gave an overview of the PCB project – background, activities, outputs and progress of implementation.
Mr Emmanuel Ameko of the Volta River Authority on the behalf of his outfit, the Ghana Grid Company Ltd and the Electricity Company of Ghana, assured the EPA of their unwavering support to ensure the success of the project.