Details are emerging that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Henry Kwabena Kokofu, has imported an internationally banned chemical into the country, on the instructions of a foreign country for the treatment of teak wood to be shipped to India.
The chemical, Bromomethane, commonly known as methyl bromide, is described as a highly toxic substance, which all United Nations-recognized countries, agreed to ban under the 1987 Montreal Protocol.
However, an agreement dated September 2, 2021, and sighted by The Herald, reveals that Ghana’s EPA, has granted authorization to a company called Q&Q Services for the importation and provision of technical assistance on the methyl bromide.
Financial Proceeds from the importation, sell and use of the banned substances, will be shared on 50-50 basis between the company and the EPA.
Q&Q Services company Ltd, is said to be an Indian company based in Tema.
The substance was banned, because it dissipates rapidly into the atmosphere, it is most dangerous at the fumigation site.
Human exposure to high concentrations of methyl bromide, can cause central nervous system and respiratory system failures and can harm the lungs, eyes, and skin.
It was described as colorless, odorless, nonflammable gas produced both industrially and biologically, and recognized as an ozone-depleting chemical.
In Ghana, the substance was banned in 2015. Yet the EPA CEO, has allowed the importation of the dangerous chemical into the country on the request of the government of India, to have teak wood from Ghana treated with the banned chemical, before shipment to that country at a time the world is discussing measures to take against climate change and global warming.
India, has banned the substance from being used in that country, because of how dangerous it is.
The agreement, said Q & Q Services is located at Community 7, Tema in the Greater Accra Region, and described as “The Service Provider” acting through its representative Mr James Rajamani.
It described “Methyl bromide” as “a fumigant used in controlling pests in agriculture as one of the controlled substances identified by the Montreal Protocol, as an ozone depleting substance and was therefore phased out by Ghana in 2015, under the Management of Ozone Depleting Substances and Product Regulations of 2015”.
“However, the Protocol allows for critical use of methyl bromide for quarantine and pre-shipment.
Critical use exemptions are exceptions to the phase out of methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting substance restricted by the Montreal Protocol. Ghana received a directive from the government of India requiring that all raw Teak products exported to India must be fumigated with Methyl Bromide”.
“Ghana, therefore has to rely on the critical use exemption under the protocol to comply with Indian’s directive as the chemical is banned for use in the country.
The Q & Q SERVICES Limited is a professional quality management Service Provider and its services include the provision of Cargo Inspection, Fumigation Services, Factory and Warehouse Audits, Loading and Discharging Supervision, Laboratory and Quality Testing Services and many more”.
It disclosed that “the Company per a letter dated 16th June, 2021, made an application to EPA for a permit to use Methyl Bromide for the Pre-Shipment Fumigation of wood, wood products and cashew nuts in compliance with the trade requirement of fumigating products before export to India;
The Agency in accordance with the requirements of Section 28 of Act 490 and the Management of Ozone Depleting Substances and Product Regulations, 2005, (LI I 8 12) and the critical use exceptions granted under the protocol, EPA granted provisional approval to the Company for restricted use of Methyl Bromide for wood, wood products and cashew nuts subject to the key conditions stipulated in the permit;
The approval is valid for one year and may be renewed upon satisfactory performance and compliance with permit conditions such as the implementation of safety measures among others to safeguard human health and the environment.
In addition, the EPA, would provide technical guidance and continuous monitoring and surveillance to ensure compliance.
The parties, have agreed that in order to ensure compliance with the requirements of the critical use exemptions of the Protocol, including the stringent reporting and monitoring requirements by Ghana, the EPA is collaborating with the company by providing technical assistance and continuous and consistent monitoring subject to a percentage share of the profit after cost.
It said that, “the EPA will conduct continuous and consistent monitoring of the fumigation processes at the warehouses to ensure that at the end of the fumigation process the company does not emit the residual substances but capture the residual substances using Best Available Technology”.
“The EPA shall during its monitoring processes check the volume of controlled substances imported, volume used and volume remaining to aid Ghana in fulfilling its reporting obligations under the Montreal Protocol and the Multilateral Fund”.
“The EPA will collaborate with the company to create awareness and educate all the company’s workforce to ensure that chemical is used correctly to prevent excess exposure to the workers, during and after the operations and also to the adjourning communities”.
The company’s obligation will be to “provide methyl bromide fumigation services using Best Available Technology that recycle or trap Methyl Bromide thus preventing it from escaping into the atmosphere”.
“The company will prepare and submit to the EPA, an Environmental Management Plan outlining standard operating procedures and mitigation measures to ensure that the fumigation activity does not impact on the environment, surrounding communities and human health”, the agreement said.
It said that “the company is aware that the Methyl Bromide is banned for use in Ghana and the company’s application was considered for restricted use ONLY. The company therefore undertakes to use only trained personnel for the fumigation activity under direct monitoring by EPA. The company further undertakes to implement measures and procedures to meet strict criteria governing safe handling, storage and use of the methyl bromide, to reduce exposure potential. Shall engage Ghanaian staff and contractors, where the appropriate level of experience and expertise is available in Ghana”.
“The company shall provide the needed materials, infrastructure, equipment and anything required to effectively provide the methyl bromide fumigation services”, the agreement said.
Interestingly, the parties mutually agreed “to keep all the information exchanged and acquired from each other or from third parties for the sole purpose of this MOU confidential, non-disclosed and use it for the good execution of this MOU”.
It said that “this MOU remains valid in force and effective until the execution of all contracts between the parties in relation to the intent of this MOU or twelve (12) months from the date of execution, whichever comes first”, adding “that any disputes arising between the parties to this MOU or their respective representatives or assigns shall be amicably settled”.
It further stated that “where attempts at amicable settlement fails, the dispute may be referred to a court of competent jurisdiction; that all amendments and additions to this MOU shall be made by the written consent of the parties”.
On the distribution of proceeds, the document disclosed that “the parties shall adopt a revenue sharing arrangement in the ratio of 50-50 after deducting the cost of providing the service”, adding “all monies payable to the Company under this MOU, shall be paid into a designated account opened by company”.
In this regard, “the Company shall make monthly payments of the EPA proportion of the revenue into a designated account after the monthly reconciliation of the company’s account by both parties”.
More to come!