President of the McCarthy Hill Residents Association, Mr. Eddie Quaynor, has disclosed the association will have no option than to head straight to court for an injunction to stop the new cement factory currently under construction in the area if authorities do not ensure its closure.
Mr. Quaynor informed that several petitions have been sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and although their grievances were welcomed with grave concern nothing has yet been done to stop work at the factory.
The McCarthy Hill Residents Association recently held a press conference to protest against the siting of a cement factory, named ‘Empire Cement’, at South McCarthy Hill along the main road leading to Weija.
Mr. Quaynor said they will utilise all legal means to ensure the factory does not see the light of day, as its operation will be too hazardous to the health and well-being of residents at McCarthy Hill, Tetegu, Mallam, Gbawe and Weija.
“We want to have a peaceful and serene environment, free of constant cement dust particles in the air – as the wind-direction blows over the cement factory area in the direction of the catchment areas mentioned.”
Mr. Quaynor observed that even more worrying is the fact the cement factory is sited next to Panbros Salt Industries Ltd. – the oldest and largest wholly Ghanaian-owned salt company that produces quality salt for the whole country and the West African sub-region.
Mr. Quaynor said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed in its correspondence to Empire Cement that edible salt and a cement factory do not mix; and that the two land-uses are mutually exclusive and must be completely separated.
He said the Factory owners have disregarded several warnings from the EPA to cease operation, and instead are working day and night to speed up construction of the factory and – and they have installed three aluminum silos so far, and are excavating and filling up the low-lying areas.
He said McCarthy Hill residents support the One District, One Factory concept and welcome the creation of jobs in Ghana, and good initiatives for building factories according to well thought-out land-use planning and laws.
He added that proper land-use planning will ensure that the health and safety of residents are protected.
He said their major concern is that the factory is being built even though there was no preliminary approval from (EPA) – the statutory body in charge of assessing, granting approval, and monitoring such factories which impact the environment negatively.
Mr. Quaynor said cement factories by their nature are classified under heavy industry, as they generate heavy duty air pollution that requires siting them in heavy industrial zones away from heavily or densely populated residential areas.
He said the production process for packaging cement disclosed in a document from Empire Cement involves Four Big Warehouses, with each Warehouse carrying separate projects: namely Clinker, Gypsum, Pozzalana, and Cement Grinding Aids.
The president said the above production processes point to heavy industry, which must be in a heavy industrial zone away from the densely populated residential areas mentioned.
He said the Empire Cement owners have avoided any engagement with residents about the health hazards on residents, especially children and the elderly, and they were shocked to see the extent of construction that had occurred without their knowledge.
Mr. Quaynor said the cement particles which result from bagging 40,000 metric tonnes of cement per month are a major environmental concern to the health of residents at McCarthy Hill and its environs.