The Environmental Protection Agency says there is no law against the siting of fuel stations within residential areas following public clamour for such stations to be relocated.
EPA Executive Director, Abum Sarkodie said the guidelines for the establishment of stations rather determine some distance between the fuel station and facilities like hospitals churches and schools.
The explanation comes after a fatal gas explosion at Madina-Atomic Junction last Saturday left seven dead and some 130 injured.
The October 7 explosion is the second in the last 11 months after 11 died following the December 22 explosion at La.
Addressing a press briefing, the Executive Director asked for a one-minute silence for the “terrible tragedy has befallen on our city”.
Mr. Abum Sarkodie said the tragedy is of “grave concern” to the EPA. He said the EPA was working with the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Fire Service, Town and Country planning, Oil Marketing Companies to understand what happened last Saturday.
The EPA, he said, has constituted a technical committee to review all applications to improve quality assurance. It will also enhance its staff expertise to do the review.
For the Agency, the concern is about the safety of citizens and not necessarily about the siting of the fuel stations.
The guidelines, he said, were reviewed only two years ago after the June 3 explosion that claimed 151 lives in 2015 at a GOIL fuel station at Circle.
Explaining the issues, the EPA Boss said the guidelines allow for the stations to be located in commercial areas. He made an exception for gas stations explaining that the guidelines restrict the location of LPG stations to light or heavy industrial areas.
The explanation raises more questions about the legitimacy of a demand by UPSA for a fuel station close to the university campus to be relocated following the tragedy which affected some of its students.
The station owned by Strategic Energy Limited (SEL) is a few metres away from the central lecture block of the university which accommodates over eleven thousand students.
Video: UPSA students, officials and residents react to the siting of the fuel station close to university.
A manager at EPA explained at the press briefing that as a regulator it carefully considers applications for fuel stations and therefore does not “just get up and close them down”.
The EPA said it has had cause to close down some stations to be re-opened only after some directives have been implemented. There are cases like Mamba Gas in Santa Maria and Odorkor which was closed down in 2016 for serious lack of safety controls.
The Executive Director also walked journalists through the process of obtaining an environmental permit to set up a fuel station. There should be a site plan, a no-objection letter from NPA, bloc plan and neighbourhood consultation forms.
This is followed by a visit from EPA officials to the proposed site of the fuel station to verify the information supplied.
It confirms names and contacts of neighbours and later writes to the Town and Country Planning for information on the zoning status of the site.
The EPA then reviews all the information and takes a decision on the application. The permit is valid for 18 months after which it has to be renewed.
Watch full press briefing
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