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Prioritise safety when issuing fuel station permits

Fuel stationMr Benjamin Dagadu, the Deputy Minister of Petroleum, has appealed to organisations concerned with the granting of permits for the setting up of fuel filling stations to strictly enforce the laws to protect lives and property.

The authorising bodies must endeavor to ensure that such fuel stations adhered to safety regulations and not to expose communities in which they operated to harm, he said.

He said, the Ministry had received petitions from communities and residents where gas and petroleum outlets were located about the dangers that they faced due to the infrastructural and operational lapses in the siting of the stations.

Speaking at a workshop on the Siting of Filling Stations in Our Communities, Mr Dagadu said it was sad that follow-ups on such reports often indicated that such stations had been given the necessary permits by the appropriate authorities and agencies.

He expressed concern about public exposure to benzene, a chemical found in crude oil and gasoline, which could lead to harmful effects on the bone marrow and also caused anemia if inhaled for a longer period.

He said exposure to benzene had become topical issues in petroleum activities because permitting authorities had become silent on the exposure to those living in close proximity to retail outlets could face from it.

He called on stakeholders in the petroleum industry to put in place the needed mechanisms to ensure that the country avoided the recurrence of the June 3rd 2015 disaster.

Mr Dagadu called for coordinated efforts among the authorising agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), the Town and Country Planning among others, to ensure that the right things concerning the siting of filling stations were followed.

He said it was sad to note that after the June 3rd Disaster, agencies such as the EPA and the NPA embarked on separate operations to close down filling stations for either improper siting or the implementation of poor security and safety measures.

He expressed concern about incidences whereby some houses had to share walls with filling stations, which he said, was dangerous.

Mrs Adrianna Nelson, the Principal Programme Officer, Environmental Assessment and Audit Division of the EPA, called on all prospective filling station operators to endeavour to obtain the Environmental Permit from the EPA because it was a legal requirement and also it enabled operators to get all the needed advice before operation.

She cited damage to corporate image, costly litigation, especially over land, expensive cleanups and pollutions as some of the issues that people and corporate entities faced when they operated without permit.

“We sometimes face challenges such as inadequate consultation by prospective operators with relevant stakeholders, which delays the processing period, inability to authenticate screening report because they were not signed by the appropriate officers,” she said.

She said the EPA was also saddled with the challenges of non-compliance with permitting conditions giving to filling station operators, inadequate parking space for stations and the lack of consultation with neigbours before operations.

Mrs Esther Anku, the Chief Inspector of NPA, entreated prospective filling station operators to ensure that they received the “No Objection Letter’’ from the NPA before operations, as failure to do so would result in serious consequences for them.

She said it was sad that some Municipal and District Assemblies sometimes issued permits to prospective operators when they had not obtained the “No Objection Letter’’ from the NPA.

Source: GNA | Ghana

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