Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA
Accra, Oct. 10, GNA - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on Tuesday, said it would soon begin conducting Risk Assessment and Audit of about 600 Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Fuel Service Stations nationwide, to enforce safety standards and close down those breaching the guidelines.
Mr Peter Abum Sakordie, the Executive Director of the EPA, said this at a media encounter in Accra, in response to the Atomic Junction gas explosion that occurred last Saturday claiming seven lives and injuring 132 people.
He added that it had reconstituted a Technical Team to review all applications for setting up those facilities across the country to improve the quality assurance.
The EPA Boss said it had only 200 technical staff and, therefore, appealed to the Government to allow them employ more staff to implement the new measures, to safeguard lives and property.
Mr Sarkodie gave the assurance that, it would not be intimidated by any political interference in enforcing the safety guidelines regarding the operations of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and fuel service stations.
The Executive Director of the EPA said, currently, there was no law that banned the siting of LPG and fuel stations in residential areas.
However, he said, there were guidelines for the establishment and operations of these facilities.
In case of fuel stations, he said, they could be sited in either commercial, mixed used areas or residential areas, but however, the guidelines set separating distances when it came to facilities like churches, hospitals and schools for new projects.
He said the guidelines also allowed LPG stations to be sited in only light and heavy industrial areas.
Responding to lack of coordination among regulatory bodies in enforcing safety standards, the EPA Boss explained that after the June 3 disaster in 2015, a Multi-Stakeholder Committee was constituted to work towards improving quality assurance in the industry.
The EPA had since been working closely with all the relevant stakeholders, including the National Petroleum Authority, the Ghana National Fire Service, the Town and Country Planning Department and the Association of Oil Marketing Companies towards enforcing safety regulations, he said.
Answering questions regarding whether Mansco Gas Refilling had legal permit to operate, Mr Ebenezer Appah-Sampong, the Deputy Director in-charge of Technical Services at the EPA, said the station’s permit had expired and was in the process of renewing it when the unfortunate incident happened.
He urged all well-meaning Ghanaians to be vigilant and report any safety breaches at LPG and fuel service stations to the Agency since a Complaints Desk had been created to take complaints from the public.
Mr Ekow Gurah-Sey, the Chief Programme Officer at the Legal Department of the EPA, noted that the EPA Act, Act 490 mandated the Agency to shut down any gas or fuel filling station flouting the EPA’s guidelines and urged the public to support them to enforce the guidelines.