Coal power plant: Environmental group fear “relentlessly devastating” impact from Central Region coal plant

Plans to build a coal power plant in the Central Region have been met with dismay from a local environmental group who say the U.S$1.5b project will harm the health of those living nearby and the environment.

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Ghana investing in fossil fuels is "inconsistent" and contradicts global efforts to stem climate change, environmental activists say. play Environmental activists have been loudly campaigning against using coal in Ghana.
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Ghana's young environmental activists are planning to petition the government to abandon plans to build a coal power plant in the Central region, which they say will be “relentlessly devastating” to the environment.

In January the joint Volta River Authority and China Shenzhen Energy project called for responses to its environmental and social impact assessment scoping report on its plans to build a coal fired power plant in the Central region in the village Ekumfi Aboano.

Called the 2x350MW Supercritical Coal Fired-Power Plant, the report said building would commence in August 2016 and is estimated to cost $US1.5bn.

The report looked at the environmental and social impacts the plant would have on the area.

It said the plant intended to "contribute considerably” to addressing the domestic power generation shortfall in the near future to improve Ghana’s future power balance and would offer a “ favourable price” which would support the country’s economic and social development.

The coal is to come from South Africa with backup sources from Columbia or other countries.

 The report outlined the harm the plant could cause and what would be done to mitigate damages, stating water would be treated and reused and ash created by the plant could be used for the production of building materials, such as cement and bricks.   

In order to mitigate pollution impact by fly ash, the project would develop 10m wide green belt composed of local trees and grasses set around ash storage yard.

 It noted marine construction works could pollute the surrounding marine environment, and the project could raise sea water temperatures.

Socially, the report said the project would create employment for both skilled and unskilled labour and would provide “meaningful job opportunities for the locals within the local communities and economic empowerment for the surrounding communities”.

However, the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement called for a separate Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to be done on the project.

The group said it came to a “shocking conclusion that a greater section of the public and the media were not adequately aware and informed about the project” so called for public hearings and press conferences to further discuss the project.

The group said its major concerns over the project was the “environmental pollution and health impacts of the activities leading to construction and operation of the coal fired power plant.”

It believed a separate ESIA would make a “frantic effort” to quantify the extent of the related environmental impacts.

In its statement, the environmental group said it was “well aware of the devastating health and environmental impacts of coal fired power plants across everywhere on this globe.”

 It was concerned about high levels of fly ash, particulate matter (PM10), smog and other thermal pollution related impacts associated with the operation of coal power plants, and said making judgments based on the experiences of their use and impacts elsewhere is important.

The group said there would be about five million tonnes of ash waste per year generated from the plant, and the poisonous and hazardous gases the plant will cause will be “injurious to heath” and the discharge into water bodies will threaten aquatic life forms, including turtle breeding grounds close to the project site.

The group said it was adequately informed by evidence of coal fired power plants elsewhere that the negative impacts are “relentlessly devastating to human life and the environment as well as the irreversible nature of these impacts not only on the environment but also on human life”.

It was also concerned about the children in Ekumfi Aboano who make up 55.9 per cent of the entire population of 1,900 people. “Children are very vulnerable especially to air-borne pollutants such as PM10 and smog," the group wrote.

"We are deeply concerned by the undeniable facts available that point to their health been compromised by the coal fired power plant. Ghana being a member of WHO, UN and other global conventions has a national mandate to protect the health of children and the vulnerable in society including those in Ekumfi Aboano.”

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