The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has described as problematic the location of the Sentuo Oil Refinery project at Tema Newtown.
The EPA said after conducting site inspection and screening the project in 2019, it found that the proposed location was a wetland and a buffer zone, making it unsuitable for any form of development.
Delivering a presentation on the project in Accra Thursday night, Mr Kojo Agbenor-Efunam, Acting Director of Petroleum at the EPA, said the Agency’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) also showed that the project site was “very close” to a residential area.
“We saw that this is a refinery that you’re building about 15 meters from the nearest residence. So, 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.”
“We also found that the project would close the buffer between the Tema Industrial zone and the residential area,” he said at the End of Year Conference Dinner of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) – Ghana.
Mr Agbenor-Efunam said the EPA initially resolved not to issue permit for the project but was informed by the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) 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 we had no choice.”
He said despite the EPA issuing a permit for the project, it still maintained that the location was not suitable for the establishment of an oil refinery.
“As far as we are concerned, the place is not suitable…the planning authorities had given the development permit to the Company and they have given them authorisation to clear the land with or without EPA permit,” he stated.
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, the EPA’s records indicate.
According to the EPA, the project is expected to be executed in two phases; the first is made up of 40,000 bpsd crude oil processing, and the second phase constitutes an additional 60,000 bpsd crude oil processing.
Mr Agbenor-Efunam said the project was registered with the EPA on December 5, 2019.
In a separate presentation on the mining of Bauxite in the Atewa Forest, Mr Aaron Asante Addai, Managing Consultant, Envi-Logica Consult, called for a thorough analysis of the benefits and potential environmental impact of the project to strike the right balance.
“We should subject the project through the whole Environmental Impact Assessment system so we get a good balance,” he said.
Mr Ebenezer Appah-Sampong, President of IAIA-Ghana, said the Organisation would scale-up its advocacy role this year and contribute more towards building a robust environmental impact assessment regime in the country.