EPA not compromising monitoring role on oil rigs

Prof.Vincent Kodzo Nartey(middle) Board Chairman,EPA addressing the news conference.Those with him are Mr Daniel S.Amlalo(left) Executive Director,EPA and Mrs Angelina Ama Tutuah Mensah(right).Photo.Ebo GormProfessor Vincent Nartey,Board Chairman of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has said that the regulatory role of the Agency to conduct offshore environmental monitoring on oil rigs, is not being compromised just because the operators airlift staff of the Agency to the offshore sites.

He said EPA, as a regulator, does not have a helicopter to conduct the inspections, saying “in view of these constraints, logistics are provided by the operators to enable the officers to perform their regulatory duties.”

Prof. Nartey said this yesterday at a media briefing in Accra to clarify some issues in some sections of the media in recent times, that put the work of EPA in a bad light.

The briefing, which was attended by some of the board members and management, sought to explain issues touching on environmental assessment procedures, monitoring in the oil, gas and mining industry, the City Initiative at Danfa, and the Lavender Hill litigation, among others.

Addressing the issue of boarding operators aircraft which people feel might compromise their regulatory role, Prof. Nartey said the practice is not unique to the EPA and that it is the practice all over the world where petroleum exploration and operations are conducted offshore.

He said the transport of the officers of EPA to the EPSO Kwame Nkrumah at the Jubilee Field, was governed by International Civil Aviation rules, adding that any issue of corruption on the part of EPA staff would not go unpunished.

“As much as the Agency would wish to own its helicopter or rent one, it is financially not possible to acquire or rent a helicopter, therefore until EPA is in a position to fulfill either one, it would continue to be transported by the operators’ helicopters for its monitoring and investigative work,” he said.

Prof. Nartey said the present circumstances would not in any way compromise the Agency’s enforcement and compliance duties in ensuring that its environmental policies are strictly adhered to at the offshore oil exploration.

Prof. Nartey said the monitoring of the offshore activities has become critical since Ghana has been recording a number of dead whales and other cetaceans on her shores between 2009 and the early part of 2014.

He said the situation has raised significant concerns and public apprehension about the causes of the escalated incidents such that, EPA consequently has constituted an inter-sectorial committee to investigate the reasons for the appearance of the whales in Ghana’s waters.

Prof. Nartey said EPA after winning the court case against the Accra Metropolitan Assembly over the use of Lavender Hill as a place for the disposal of liquid waste, the AMA is taking steps to decommission the site.

He said so far EPA is satisfied with the steps being taken by the AMA, adding that there would be constant monitoring to ensure that the court’s verdict is fully complied with.

Prof. Nartey said the decommissioning of the place has become necessary because, its continued presence and usage gives the nation a bad image in the fishing and tourism industry.

With regard to the Green City Project at Danfa, the management and board members of the EPA has decided to put the project on an indefinite hold, he stated.

Prof. Nartey said EPA has also taken steps to ensure that the issuing of environmental permits would become more transparent, in the face of many allegations of misconduct being levelled against the Technical Review Committee.

He said the Board has put in place an interim sub-committee representing relevant stakeholders including representatives of civil society organisations and a board member to review and authorise the issuance of environmental permits, after work has been done by the Technical Review Committee within the Agency.

Prof. Nartey asked Ghanaians to be more circumspect and adopt more safety measures in the use of generators, following the power rationing.

By Lawrence Markwei    

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