Views: 441 Story: Ishmael A. Junourgh Many Ghanaians are going to suffer and many more to die by a “silent killer”: inhaling invisible asthma, and lun...

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Story: Ishmael A. Junourgh

Many Ghanaians are going to suffer and many more to die by a “silent killer”: inhaling invisible asthma, and lung-cancer causing high toxic-fuels imported into the country.

The fuels will damage cars, and emission technologies cannot function too.

But the Public Eye’s Commodities Research Officer, Gian-Valentino says Traders push all the blame to some African governments, including that of Ghana, for their failure to implement stricter regulations, and at the same time keeping information of the deadly effect of such imported fuels behind closed door.

According to the Public Eye research, the toxic fuels are as a result of a fuel manufacturing process called blending. Blending is the mixing of different blendstocks in fuel manufacturing process. And even though the process is fully legal and business as usual for the fuel industry; it has created a window of opportunity for producers to add chemicals which are not necessary in fuel, for example, biogas, which will culminate into sulphur content to destroy the environment and pose sickness to street vendors in particular.

Gian-Valentino said “shockingly, those chemicals are no longer necessary in the processing of fuels,” and so regulation of the chemicals has become critical,  “in Europe, those things have nothing to do in fuels anymore, because we have regulated the substances, each country is at its own standard on fuel quality, yet in the European Union, they have all adopted, for example, 10ppm for both diesel and gas oil;  in the US it is 15ppm; in Japan, it is 10ppm also.”

However, in Ghana, the Tema oil refinery has the capacity to process so much fuel to remove the sulphur completely out of them, but according to Public Eye, powerful lobby of importers keeps the “killer” dirty fuel importation flourishing at the expense of the people’s health, causing peril to the environment, and emission control technologies; “they will be damaged at corrosive effect of the sulphur”.

He said “powerful lobbyists tell the government that high quality fuel will come with high price, but it is not true. Even so, it is marginal compare to people getting sick, which can impact the economy and the budget of the state. The gains largely outweigh the cost of high quality fuel”.

Meanwhile, most of the fuels imported to Africa, including Ghana are coming from the ARA region, an important hub for the exports of fuels to West Africa including Ghana. The ARA region comprises; ports of Armsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp, the UK, Russia and the Baltic countries too because they supply petroleum products and blendstocks to the ARA.

Swiss trading companies which might be expected to use a significant portion of ARA’s infrastructure, such as storage facilities and refinery are as well profiting from the relaxed national regulations on fuels’ quality in Africa that allows them to provide in Africa substandard fuel that intend will damage off the people and the environment too.

Gian-Valentino said after samples from eight African countries, most of them for instance were doing around 3780 ppm compared to 10 ppm sold in Europe.

He said; “but today, most African countries,” including Ghana, “still allow traders to import such fuels because there is profit in that. Fuels for the African,” for that matter, the Ghanaian “market has become the lucrative way to get rid of waste of the chemical industry, but also, of the refinery industry”.

Per the public eye research finding, Ghana is currently doing as high as between 2200 – 2600ppm of the imported deadly substances victims of double standard between European fuel quality, and African fuel quality.

Gian-Valentino explained into details that cars and vehicles on such fuels “release significant amount of the particular matter (ppm) which also will be more toxic because when sulphur is combusted it creates sulphur-dioxide, but also sulphate then get together some amount of the molecules of the ppm, and so sulphate is toxic for health and it is even more problematic that traffic related ppm are very tin when breathe in, it goes deep into the lung tissue, they lounge there, and for a very long time,  affect health of the people; it creates asthma, chronic obstructive health diseases, not to talk of lung cancer.”

He said in the end street vendors were most likely first to be hurt.

He said the situation was a sad note because if industry manufactures the fuel as in Europe what is actually sold, then 50% of those emissions would have been lesser.

When quizzed, he said “it was one thing to see dark fumes of a car, it was another not to see them but it has a meaning; the air is not contaminated by particulate matter; those “killer” pollutants are sometimes invisible silent killer.

“I think that the people have to know what they buy at the fuel stations. They should know what is going on behind closed door,” he suggested.

He said the United Nations’ efforts to remove sulphur in fuel have gone far way in East Africa and now attention is shifted to the West African sub-region.

He suggested that the report, named: “Dirty Diesel How Swiss Traders Flood Africa with Toxic Fuels” should put on the policy making table for stricter standards to leap-frog the African quality on fuels.