Business News of Friday, 21 July 2017
An emergency operation was on Thursday carried out by personnel of the Fire Safety Department of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to prevent a possible fire outbreak, following leakages on 18-inch diameter crude pipelines of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).
The leakages are said to have been noticed last Monday but the operation was carried out on Thursday after officials of the GPHA?and TOR realised the danger the situation could pose to lives and property.
The fire personnel suppressed the crude from the pipelines, using firefighting foam to prevent the oil from spilling over into the PSC Tema Shipyard where some of the workers were carrying out maintenance works in hot temperature.
Valves on the affected pipelines connecting the oil jetty where oil tankers (vessels) dock to offload crude oil and finished petroleum products to onshore storage facilities had been damaged.
That created a situation where the oil, leaking from the pipelines, gradually spilled onto the Volta Aluminium Company berth, near the PSC Tema Shipyard.
Maintenance works were carried out on most of the crude oil pipelines from 2015 to 2016 after a Daily Graphic publication on a similar leakage.
A visit to the facility by the Daily Graphic yesterday showed that while most of the oil pipelines had been rehabilitated or replaced, others looked rusty.
The Fire Safety Manager at the GPHA, Mr Jimmy Nab Daisie, who supervised the emergency operation, told the Daily Graphic that TOR’s emergency response to the issue had been poor.
According to him, officials of the refinery were notified last Tuesday by the GPHA after patrons of the Tema Fishing Harbour had complained of leaked substances gushing out, but the TOR officials downplayed the danger.
“My unit was prompted to conduct the emergency exercise as a stop-gap measure to protect lives and property within the enclave, considering the proximity of the pipelines to the welding units of the PSC Tema Shipyard,” Mr Daisie said.
A similar incident, he said, caused the infamous 2005 fire disaster at the shipyard which killed some people.
“We want to take every precautionary measure to safeguard not only the installations of the GPHA but other business entities, as well as the hundreds of people who ply their trade around the port,” he added.
Mr Daisie suggested that TOR should be sanctioned, since the officials did not attach any importance to the incident.
He was of the view that the substance could have been washed into the sea, polluting the port environment if it had rained within the days of the incident.
“The polluter pay policy ought to be applied in this situation, since TOR neglected its responsibility, leading to the leakage,” he said.
When contacted, the acting Managing Director of TOR, Mr Isaac Osei, told the Daily Graphic that he was yet to receive a report on the incident from his technical team.