The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to embark a nation-wide compliance and monitoring programme on all Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketing Companies (LPGMCs), to ensure operational standards.
The exercise, which becomes effective September 1 this year, will ensure that such companies operate and adhere to the Environmental Assessment and Regulation 1999, Legislative Instrument (LI) 1652.
The Legislative Instrument 1652 requires that all activities such as the establishment of petroleum products outlets that can have significant negative effects on the environment are registered and permits obtained before commencement of such undertakings.
Mr Daniel Amlalo, Executive Director of the EPA, announced these during a day’s sensitisation workshop on Environmental Assessment Regulation and compliance for OMCs, in Accra on Wednesday.
He appealed to OMCs to immediately secure or renew environmental permits to avoid falling foul with the law.
Mr Daniel Amlalo said: “All companies found to be non-compliant will be closed down and the appropriate legal sanctions, including penalties would be applied”.
He said the Environmental Assessment process initiated by Government had made significant contributions, and continued to be an integral part of informed decision-making in the country, particularly among regulatory agencies, financial intuitions and donors.
“For instance, investment and resource promoters as well as regulators rely extensively on Environmental Assessment of a country as an efficient planning tool for quality decision –making”, Mr Amlalo.
He explained that the consumption of petroleum products, especially ‘white products’ such as petrol, diesel and kerosene and LPG had been on a steady rise over the past decade in the country resulting in their high demand.
This, Mr Amlalo said had attracted huge investment into the downstream energy sector, resulting in the proliferation of retail outlets for both fuel services and LPG refilling plants, especially in urban centres.
He noted that such investments had resulted in challenges, including land-use conflicts, leakages of underground storage tanks, pollution of ground water and soil among others.
Mr Amlalo mentioned non-compliance with permitting conditions, inadequate technical knowledge and skills on the part of employees, who operated facilities at the stations, inadequate consultations with surrounding neighbours, and use of inappropriate or unapproved reservoirs as some of the challenges the EPA was facing with OMCs and LPGMCs.
Mr Samuel Anku, Deputy Executive Director of EPA, said the Agency recorded a high level of compliance following a previous Compliance and Enforcement Workshop, organised last year.
“However, I wish to indicate that there are still a number of OMCs/LPGMCs who are still not complying and therefore operating their facilities without recourse to the Environmental Assessment and Regulations 1999, LI 1652”, he said.
Mr Anku said the workshop sought to update OMCs on the Environmental Assessment Regulations and create a platform to discuss challenges facing the oil marketing industry in their effort to meet the EPA’s requirements.
He called on OMCs to consider the use of underground installation of LPG refilling plants as an alternative to the current above ground installation in an effort to protect the environment.
The workshop discussed Environmental Impact Assessment Requirement and Procedures, Guidelines for the Establishment and Operations of Petroleum Products Retail Outlet, Environmental Management Planning and the Preparation of Annual Environmental Report.