Western Diamond Cement Limited (WDCL) has explained that its operations do not have any adverse effects on the health of people in the community where it operate, as is being speculated.
According to the company, the recent air-pollution was due to a problem encountered with maintenance of the dust suction system – which caused an emission.
“Actually, we admit there was a problem concerning our bag filters in May 2021 resulting in the emission of dust from the road leading to our plant joining the main road. We were called to the regional coordinating council for a meeting,” said Ellen Angela Jonah, Corporate Group Head Administration/Human Resource of WDCL.
“We informed members at the meeting that we had already put measures in place to control the emission until we receive new bag filters, which have been ordered,” she added.
She pointed out after several interactions and questions from members to representatives of WDCL, an agreement was reached by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director, Municipal Health Director and others. They recommended measures to be put in place.
Ms. Jonah said the meeting ended with a caution that Western Diamond Cement should see to the regular maintenance of it structures and equipment to prevent future occurrences. “To finally clear our doubts about dust infection, the National Tuberculosis Control Programme through the Ghana Health Service did a screening for about 350 staff of the plant to ascertain TB Infection prevalence. Results indicated that no one had TB at the plant,” she further explained.
These, she said, are clear evidences that the plant does not cause any harm to the community as speculated.
During a meeting at Bokoro in the Ahanta West Municipality of the Western Region – to explain the company’s current situation to stakeholders such as the EPA, traditional rulers and members of the community – she said the company “is a law-abiding firm and works with all rules and regulations of the Republic of Ghana; and it would not do anything that negatively affects the people’s health. We plead with you that if there are problems regarding this issue, kindly draw the company’s attention and any immediate action necessary will be taken,” she said.
George Diawuoh, Acting Western Regional Director of EPA, dispelled rumours that the activities of WDCL are negatively affecting the community. “From the agency’s point of view, 70 percent of dust emission is from the road and 30 percent is also from other sources, be it maintenance or other aspects of operations around,” he said.
He said clearance has been given by the Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, for Diamond Cement to tar the road leading to the company.
Also, he said raw materials used by the company should be stored at a different place. The area should be barricaded for the safe parking of vehicles.
“We asked for schedule of work on the shelter and silos of the company to be completed. In our view, by the first half of next year all raw materials should be evacuated from that area. During the height of COVID-19, they had issues with filters within the dust extractors, and so we have asked them to bring a schedule that seeks to change the filter bags at regular intervals.”
He encouraged WDCL to engage the community regularly, since they are the major stakeholders in the area.
Nana Agyemang IX, Chief of Lower Dixcove, commended the regional coordinating council for ensuring that the road is constructed to avoid dust within the community. He said the company has always had a good relationship with the community, and encouraged them to continue to do so.