Ghana cited as major traffic destination for hazardous waste

E-waste in Ghana
E-waste in Ghana

Ghana has been cited as one of the top destinations for the trafficking of illegal hazardous wastes in the West African sub-region by a rapid response assessment of the UN Environmental Programme and INTERPOL.

While several countries lining the West African coastline are destinations of hazardous waste trafficked illegally, mostly from Europe and the United States, Ghana and Nigeria are the main destinations in the region, according to the UNEP and INTERPOL report “The Rise of Environmental Crime.”

Already in 2016, three containers carrying ozone depleting substances have been seized in Ghana during the month of May.

It will be recalled that in 2015, investigations by John Vigah of The Ghanaian Times exposed the detention of 17 containers containing hazardous wastes imported from Ukraine, at the state warehouse, Atlas Terminal, in Tema.

The containers which were labelled as containing plant growth regulator, tested positive for several heavy metals.

According to the UNEP/INTERPOL report, deliberate mislabelling is the modus operandi for importing wastes.

“Waste is often deliberately classified as other items to bypass or deceive law enforcement authorities. This is often done by using non-hazardous waste codes for hazardous wastes or using product codes for hazardous wastes or disguised as second hand goods,” the report says.

The report cites Senegal, Guinea, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso and Cameroun as West African countries where illegal waste exports have been proven to have arrived, adding that lack of control for the emerging market of waste electrical and electronic waste makes it a low-risk business for organized crime.

Even though there are international instruments for tracking and managing hazardous wastes, such as the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and the Rotterdam Convention; electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) and other hazardous chemical wastes get trafficked illegally from Europe to Africa and other world regions.

By Emmanuel Odonkor

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