The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended the posting of security personnel at ammonium nitrate warehouses in the Western Region to avert any eventuality, as they could be targets in the event of any instability in the neighbouring Mali and Cote d’Ivoire.
It observed that most of the ammonium nitrate at the warehouses is used at the mines in Mali and Cote d’Ivoire, and, therefore, could be targets of instability and proposed the use of tracking devices to monitor their movement
“We also recommend that the security personnel should be engaged to escort ammonium nitrate from the harbour to various warehouses since there are transportation issues of trucks stopping at fuel stations, which are public areas and pose a challenge to safety,” an EPA report on rapid site assessment of the chemical in the Western Region sighted by Ghanaian Times stated.
The report signed by the Acting Regional Director, Ing. George Diawuoh, indicated that the office would communicate the adverse findings to the respective proponents and ensure that swift action was taken to remedy key issues.
The report followed the Agency’s public notice release on the recent explosion in Lebanon, which is alleged to have been caused by ammonium nitrate.
The EPA, led by Ing. Diawuoh, carried out an audit of ammonium nitrate warehouse facilities to ensure that all Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were strictly implemented.
Ammonium nitrate, according to experts, is a crystal-like white solid which is made in large industrial quantities. Its biggest use is being a source of nitrogen for fertiliser, but it is also used to create explosives for mining.
Primarily, the audit was to determine the current scope of operations at the various ammonium nitrate warehouses, assess the nature of the adjacent lands and compatibility with neighbouring activities and make the necessary recommendations for appropriate improvement measures.
Facilities covered included Stellar Logistics – Funko; Ahanta Stellar Logistics – Prestea; Jocydeck Limited – Apowa; Greenline Logistics – New Amanful; K. Yalley Limited – New Amanful; Western Industries Limited – Apowa, all in the Ahanta West Municipality.
The exercise, which ended on Friday, August 14, 2020, noted that the warehouses were generally sited outside densely-populated areas within the Western Region, operated with the requisite environmental permits and did not pose any immediate and serious environmental and safety concern.
“There were no observed fuel or sources of heat of close proximity to the permitted sites and all safety requirements and protocols are generally adhered to. We will continue to monitor the operations of such establishments and the activities of adjoining lands,” the report said.
Generally, the EPA team concluded that most warehouses had fire extinguishers inside the facility, fire hydrants, water tanks, security, and personal protection equipment (PPE).
However, at Silver Hand Company Limited, permitted by the Agency to operate a warehouse for the storage of cement at Apowa in the Ahanta West Municipality, there were no security personnel at the entrance to prevent unauthorised entry.
“Personnel at the site claimed there were two staff members assigned security duties around the facility during the day and also military personnel are engaged to guard the place during the night. There were no documents to support such an engagement with the military,” the report said.
At Stellar Logistics at Prestea, also in the Ahanta West Municipality, the warehouse sited along the Apowa-Mpohor road was appropriate for the ammonium nitrate storage, but the report advised that fire extinguishers should be placed just outside the warehouse, so that in the event of a fire outbreak, access to the extinguishers would not be denied.
The EPA noted: “Storage of Ammonium Nitrate outside the storage sheds of the warehouse is prohibited. The company should be directed to desist from such practices.”
The report said Greenline Logistics Limited, located at New Amanful, should be directed to engage with Cape 3 Service Limited, an oil and gas service company, and K. Yalley Limited, to ensure their activities did not have unintended consequence on the storage of ammonium nitrate.
FROM CLEMENT ADZEI BOYE, SEKONDI