The government of Ghana’s idea to establish coal power plant in the country has received unwelcome reception, with a section of youth along the coastal belt describing the idea as detrimental to their environment and health.
“Already, as a country, we are unable to handle the harmful effects of mining, which is destroying our water bodies, farms, fishing and so on, thus there is no need to add another problem which comes in coal to it,’’ says KwekuAdjei, a youth in Shama district of the western region.
According to Adjei, the coal power plant would cause heath related problems such as anaemia, besides other problems including acid rain, water pollution and generally climate change.
He is of the view that government needs to find alternative measures which are environmentally friendly such as solar, and wind, given that these are abundant in Ghana throughout the year to produce energy.
At a youth forum and rally organised by Ghana-Reducing Our Carbon, (G-ROC), a climate change movement in Nkofueku a community in Sekondi-Takoradi, majority of the youth expressed dissatisfaction on the intention of the government to establish coal power plant citing that the governments needs to involve people in such decision making process due to its effects.
AbenaEssel, another youth, says having a coal plant establishment in the region will destroy most of the farming activities in the region such as fishing and crops farming which forms bulk of their livelihoods.
Coal power plant produce lots of nitrogen oxides. The health effects of nitrogen oxides exposure range from eye, nose and throat irritation at low levels of exposure to serious damage to the tissues of the upper respiratory tract, fluid build-up in the lungs and death at high exposure levels.
Among the array of air toxics emitted by coal plants, mercury is the pollutant of greatest concern. After mercury is released to the air, it is deposited in bodies of water where it is converted to an organic form that accumulates in fish tissues. Humans are exposed to mercury primarily through the consumption of contaminated fish. The neurotoxic effects are particularly threatening to fetal and child development. Fetal exposure via the placenta can cause mental retardation and brain damage, while continued exposure in early childhood can result in learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.
The acting queen mother of Shama Traditional Council, Nana AkosuaGyamfiaba II says the gas flaring at Aboadze is bringing forth diseases in the name of electricity provision, “let’s all stand together to fight against coal power plant establishment and other agents of climate change such as gas flaring’’.
Currently Ghana emits about 24 megatonnes of carbon dioxide a year and developing a coal fired power station will certainly compromise the state of the environment as it spews more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
“At each stage of its life cycle, coal pollutes the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land that we depend on,” Chibeze Ezekiel, the National Coordinator of G-ROC says.
“The mining and processing of coal displaces communities, destroys forests and generates hazardous waste’’.
“The transport of coal releases coal dust, which harms the health of nearby communities’’.
“The burning of coal in power plants pollutes our air and water with heavy metals, particulates and other toxins,” he emphasised.
Renewable energy such as solar, wind, as well as biogas is the right alternatives and there is the need for the government to channel available resources towards this area, Ezekiel emphasised.
The objectives of the youth forum and rally seeks to sensitise the youth in the community on climate change issues and how to can adapt, create more allies or support base of young people to collectively fight against climate change effects and raise young renewable energy advocacy champions.
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