Story by: Ishmael Barfi
The location of the Sentuo Oil Refinery project according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a serious threat and time bomb to the lives of people living at Tema Newtown, suburb in the Tema Metropolis.
This became known to the EPA after its site inspection and screening of the project in 2019 which showed that, the proposed location was a wetland and a buffer zone, hence unsuitable for any form of Development.
This revelations was made by Mr. Kojo Agbenor-Efunam, the Acting Director of Petroleum at the EPA during his presentation on the project at the End of Year Conference & Dinner of the International Association of Impact Assessment- Ghana (IAIA-Gh) held on Thursday, 13th January, 2022 in Accra.
Speaking further, Mr. Agbenor-Efunam explained that, the Agency’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) also revealed that, the project site was “very close”to a residential area.
To him, situating an Oil Refinery close to a residential area is seriously a time bomb.
“It is like you are placing a bomb very close to the people and any time something goes wrong and there is a blast, you are going to wipe out almost everybody”, he lamented.
This he said would close the buffer between Tema Industrial Zone and the residential area.
In its earlier stages, he indicated that the Environmental Protection Agency was not willing to issue a permit for the project until the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) notified the Agency that, the said location had been earmarked for industrial purposes.
“We were looking at the area as a buffer, but the TDC said the area was not a buffer but had been zoned for industrial purpose, so had no choice”, he bemoaned.
Though the Agency issued a permit for the project, the Acting Director for Petroleum emphatically pointed out that, the EPA till holds on the fact that, the location of the project is not suitable for the establishment of an Oil Refinery close to a residential area.
“As far as we are concerned, the place is not suitable though the planning authorities have given the development permit to the Company as well as an authorization to clear the land with or without the Permit”, he emphasized.
Surprisedly, the Tema Traditional Council (TTC) custodian of the lands are in support and agreement of the setting up of the Oil Refinery at its present location.
The Sentuo Oil Refinery project was registered with the EPA on 5th December,2019.
Located in Tema Newtown, the Sentuo Oil Refinery seeks to construct and operate a 100,000 Barrels Per Stream Day (bpsd) complex petroleum refinery to process light, medium and heavy crude oil, records at the EPA says.
Meanwhile, the project is expected to be executed in two phases, that is 40,000 bpsd crude oil processing for the first phase whiles the second phase constitutes an additional 60,000 bpsd crude oil processing.
Taking his turn to do his presentation on the mining of Bauxite in the Atiwa Forest, the Managing Consultant at Envi-Logica Called, Mr. Aaron Asante Addai called for a thorough analysis of the benefits and potential environmental impact of the project to strike the right balance.
Emphasizing that, “We should subject the project through the Whole Environmental Impact Assessment system so we get a good balance”, he said.
On his part, the President of International Association of Impact Assessment Ghana chapter (IAIA-Gh), Mr. Ebenzer Appah-Sampong stated that, the IAIA organisation would scale-up it’s advocacy role this year to enhance it’s contributions in the impact Assessment field.
In addition, scaling up would also help the organisation contribute more towards building a robust environmental impact assessment regime in the country.