The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has refuted claims that the siting of a fuel station, Cash Oil Company Limited Fuel Station, at Kotobabi in the Ayawso Central Municipality breached provisions of the Agency’s safety regulations.
This follows a petition filed by some concerned residents of the area in September last year, in which they raised red flags over the location of the fuel station within the heart of the community.
The residents, among other things cited health and environmental issues as reasons for calling for the relocation of the fuel station.
At a media briefing after officials of the Agency visited the site on Wednesday, for further verification and field assessment, Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, Executive Director of EPA, said the residents’ concerns were speculative because the location of the station was within EPA’s specification.
He explained that the fuel station did not violate the 60 meter radius from a public building guideline, which would have necessitated the cancellation of the project and withdrawal of permits and licenses.
Dr Kokofu said measurements taken by the technical team of EPA from the centre of the project to the nearest public building, which was a school building, indicated that the filling station was situated 80 meters away from the school.
“The law is clear and explicit per National Petroleum Authority (NPA) regulations, that when you want to site a filling station it must be within a radius of 60-meters. You don’t have to encounter any public building and in this wise, public building is defined by the law as school, hospital, church and then market.
“The only contention here is a nearby school building and my suspicion and fear was that it was within the 60-meter radius, which could have given EPA the audacity and authority to cancel all other permits and licenses. Now that it is evidently clear that it is within the acceptable limitations then we can’t do anything, but we can only call for reinforcement of other things that may help to limit level of the risk if they are any,” he said.
Dr Kokofu, however, assured the residents that the Agency would through its technical team put in measures as preconditions and conditions thereon regarding the construction and the real operation of the fueling station.
He also noted that even though there were records to show that the Ghana National Fire Service had approved the place for the fuel station, EPA was going to ask the Service to beef up the fire safety and fire protection mechanism to allay all fears.
Dr. Kokofu, however, directed that work remained halted as the Agency worked to engage the petitioners and the proponents, all other institutional stakeholders, including the Assembly and the Fire Service to take the necessary steps.
Some residents called for the review of the law for residential buildings to be taken into consideration during the siting of such facilities.
“People are staying in their homes more hours than they do in the public buildings. In the homes you have vulnerable adults who never leave the house, children who may never leave the house 24/7. You take this closer to them and then you protect the public buildings,” Madam Caroline Ferguson, a resident fumed.
Cash Oil Company Limited Fuel Station obtained the permit about two years ago from EPA for the project.
Development of the site has, however, been halted at the time of visit with a “Stop Work Now” inscriptions written on the wall and the gate by the Assembly and EPA.