The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has procured a patrol vessel at the cost of 620,000 dollars for rapid response to environmental emergences in Ghana’s maritime waters, especially at the oil gas field.
Mr Daniel Amlalo, Executive Director of EPA, said on Wednesday in Sekondi that the coastal and inland water monitoring rigid inflatable boat would be used for monitoring, inspections and first line emergency response in case of reports or suspicion about discharge of pollutants in Ghana’s maritime waters.
The boat, christened; “POSRA” or “POSENA” is the local name for the cuttlefish which includes squids and octopuses. It is assumed that the boat is intended to behave like a cuttlefish noted for the abhorrence to dirty or polluted environment.
Mr Amlalo, speaking at the commissioning of the boat at the Western Naval Command, said it would be equipped for collection of samples and photo documentation to secure proofs of pollution.
It would be operated by the Navy and placed in the custody of the Naval Command on behalf of the EPA.
He said maritime traffic had increased tremendously with a lot of vessels calling at the ports while bunkering activities were also on the rise which were indication of risk potential for oil spill hence the purchase of the vessel to respond to reported incidences.
Mr Amlalo said the EPA was building a laboratory at the Western Regional Office in Sekondi with funds from the Oil and Gas Capacity Building Project (OGCBP) which would be completed by the end of the year for laboratory services for Ghana and the sub-region.
He said within a period of four years after the Jubilee oil discovery, the EPA had put measures in place to address unforeseen environmental events in the oil and gas sector.
The measures include the establishment of a Petroleum Department to be in charge of the sector, expansion of the Western Regional Office, recruitment of 20 staff, as well as the purchase of logistics such as vehicles, and office equipment under the OGCBP funded by the World Bank.
Some of the EPA staff were also being trained under the Norwegian Oil for Development Programme, Mr Amlalo said, and expressed gratitude to the Norwegian Government for renewing its partnership agreement with Ghana for support for another five years.
Dr Alfred Sugri Tia, Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, commissioned the vessel on behalf of the Minister.
He said Government included the EPA in the World Bank funded five-year OGCBP from 2011 to 2015 to enable it work efficiently in the oil and gas sector and operate in accordance with international standards.
He entreated the EPA and its stakeholders to work assiduously to ensure that the country received maximum benefit from the petroleum sector development initiatives without compromising the integrity of the ecosystem and wellbeing of Ghanaians.
Mr Emmnauel Armah Kofi Buah, Minister of Energy and Petroleum, in a speech read for him, said Government, in collaboration with development partners, has undertaken a Strategic Environmental Assessment to ensure that environmental issues were considered in major decisions concerning the oil/gas sector at the earlier stage in order to achieve certain targets.
Commodore Mark Yawson, Chief of Staff at the Naval Head Quarters, gave the assurance that the boat would be well maintained and used for the intended purpose.
The officials later went on a 20 minutes cruise on the vessel. GNA