Fuel stations seeking permits to operate must now be sited 500 metres away from each other, Director of Environment Assessment and Audit Division of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr. Kwabena Badu-Yeboah has stated.
The directive is to help reduce the influx of fuel stations in the country as well as minimise impact of risk to residents and the environment in case of unexpected accidents.
He said fuel stations which were close to each other were previously allowed to operate provided they didn’t pose a threat to the environment, adding that, “after the June 3 disaster, we placed a ban on issuing permits to fuel station operators and together with other stakeholders, we have revised some of the rules for operation”.
Mr. Badu-Yeboah spoke to the Ghanaian Times, in the wake of public allegations against the EPA on the issuance of permit to owners of fuel stations, sited in residential areas, and the risk they pose to residents.
He said the EPA had only issued permit after it was convinced that such venture would not create any environmental risk to the people, and that, all other relevant stakeholders had approved of the location of such projects.
“By law, any undertaking that has impact on the environment must register with the EPA for permit after complying with all guidelines,” he said.
Mr Badu-Yeboah said, “EPA is not involved in land allocation to operators. That is the responsibility of the district assemblies. We only come in to assess the environmental impact of the project such as discharges and emissions into the air and make sure the right thing is done.”
He said, in cases where the EPA had observed any wrongdoing on the part of operators, it had issued notices to have the problem rectified or at worst, the agency revoked the permit.
According to him, the EPA had assigned officers to district assemblies in the country who regularly monitor such fuel stations to ensure that all set standards were complied with.
Mr. Badu-Yeboah, however, expressed worry about poor planning of cities, coupled with indiscriminate constructions, which had led to the country’s increased environmental problems.
“If you have a well planned society, you solve half of your environmental problems. You know where to put a house, a landfill site, factories, fuel stations etc,” he stated.
Mr. Badu-Yeboah called for more stringent efforts at improving the country’s planning system to ensure a safe environment and urged government to allocate more resources to stakeholders.