Dear Volta River Authority (VRA) and Shenzhen Energy Ghana,
With reference to your publication in the Daily Graphic newspaper dated January 8, 2015, page 27, titled ‘Scoping Notice’, we wish you bring to your attention our concerns about the 2x350MW Supercritical Coal Fired-Power Plant as follows:
- We first of all acknowledge that the 120 page Scoping Report only sets out and validate the extent of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the project and ascertain the significance of the impact of potential key areas. It is not an ESIA in itself and hence not the absolute document for the justification of the project. However, for the environmental movement in Ghana, it serves as a very important document on the path of rejecting coal power in Ghana and recommend other alternatives to coal;
- Within the few weeks of circulating the Scoping Report to different organizations, civil society platforms, environmental coalitions and indeed the media, we came to a shocking conclusion that a greater section of the public and the media were not adequately aware and informed about the project. We therefore call for a number of coordinated public hearings and press conferences to further discuss it and most importantly involve individuals, organizations and institutions that responded to the Scoping Notice you served with phone calls, emails and in writing;
- Our major concerns about the project are the environmental pollution and health impacts of the activities leading to construction and operation of the coal fired power plant. Although the ESIA will make a frantic effort to quantify the extent of the related environmental impacts, we are well aware of the devastating health and environmental impacts of coal fired power plants across everywhere on this globe. Coal is a foreign pollutant in this part of the globe and indeed the Scoping Report duly acknowledged that there is limited knowledge of coal power use in this part of the world. But we are very much aware of the high level of fly ash, particulate matter (PM10), smog and other thermal pollution related impacts associated with the operation of coal power plants and hence making judgements based on the experiences of their use and impacts elsewhere is very important;
- We are very much aware of the tons of waste- about 5 million tonnes of ash waste (per annum) that would be generated from the plant, the air pollution of poisonous and hazardous gases that are injurious to heath, the discharges into water bodies that threatens aquatic life forms (including turtle breeding grounds close to the project site) and the destruction of the natural environment. While it is important for the ESIA to clearly communicate this for a progressive public debate, we are adequately informed by evidence of coal fired power plants elsewhere that the negative impacts are relentlessly devastating to human life and the environment as well as the irreversible nature of these impacts not only on the environment but also on human life;
- The Scoping Report indicated that children in Ekumfi Aboano are 55.9% of the entire population of 1,900 people. Children are very vulnerable especially to air-borne pollutants such as PM10 and smog. We are deeply concerned by the undeniable facts available that point to their health been compromised by the coal fired power plant. Ghana being a member of WHO, UN and other global conventions has a national mandate to protect the health of children and the vulnerable in society including those in Ekumfi Aboano.
- While we wait for the ESIA to respond fully and appropriately to each impact that would be outlined in that document, we hereby reject the idea of bringing coal power to Ghana on grounds of devastating health and environmental impacts of coal fired-power plants.
- In the interim, we are gathering and collecting signatures of individuals and civil society organizations who also reject coal power in Ghana as a petition to Government to abandon plans of bringing coal to Ghana.
- Respectfully submitted.
Cc: EPA, Ministry of Environment, Science & Technology
The President of Ghana HE John Dramani Mahama has been appointed together with the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg as a Co-Chair of a group of sixteen influential global figures to support the UN in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The appointment, welcomed by many Ghanaians as a testimony of the country’s apparent commitment to sustainable development, was also received with utmost shock by environmental activists, considering that the sub-Sahara African country has advanced plans to build a coal-fired power plant.
The project named as the 2x350MW Supercritical Coal Fired-Power Plant would commence in August 2016 and see a future expansion to a 2000MW plant in four (4) years with between 1,800,000 and 2,050,000 tons of the dirty fuel being imported from South Africa per year. The project is estimated to cost $US1.5bn with partners from China based Shenzhen Energy Group.
The contradiction of the President’s new role and the country’s investment in a coal plant to be situated in Ekumfi Aboano, a village in the Central Region of Ghana with a population of 1,900 of which 55.9% are children (GSS, 2014), lies in the fact that Goals 7 and 13 of the SDGs call for Affordable & Clean Energy and Climate Action respectively.
This seems to present a conundrum to President Mahama in articulating his commitment to the SDGs without addressing his leadership over a project that doesn’t only pose severe environmental and public health risks to vulnerable people and communities but also usurps a global just transition from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy. Indeed the Ghanaian leader was a vocal figure in supporting climate action at the Conference of Parties (COP21) held last December in Paris under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Earlier this week, the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM) with its allies—Ghana Youth Climate Coalition (GYCC), Hipsters of Nature and Green African Youth Organization (GAYO-Ghana), among others called for Government to abandon plans to invest in coal power with an online petition because of the “devastating health, environmental and social impacts the plant will cause to communities housing it”. Activists also indicate that investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure such as coal shows a betrayal and lack of commitment and leadership towards fighting climate change.
Organizers from key youth-led environmental organizations are mobilizing for coordinated nationwide actions that would culminate in a mass anti-coal rally to reject coal in Ghana. Meanwhile, the Volta River Authority (VRA), Government’s lead institution in implementing the project with its Chinese partners Shenzhen Energy Group have made public a 120 page Scoping Report that sets out and validate the extent of the Environmental & Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the project and ascertain the significance of the impact of potential key areas.
Hello, do you have a few minutes to spare? Why don’t you make a call to reject coal fired power plant from coming to Ghana. Follow the steps below:
1. Call the offices of the CEO of VRA (0302 664941-9) and Executive Director of EPA (0302 664 697/8) and Deputy Manager of Shenzhen Energy Ghana (0544 343449)
2. Mention your name and organization if you belong to one. (You can also mention Ghana Youth Environmental Movement)
3. Tell them you saw a newspaper publication inviting the public to call them to give their concerns about the coal fired power plant project in Ekumfi.
4. Tell them in a polite manner that you strongly reject and oppose the project on grounds of the devastating health, social and environmental impacts it will cause.
5. Finally tell them that your position would be put into writing and sent to their email and postal address by the closing date of January 31, 2016 as stated in the publication
6. Don’t forget to RECORD the call. You can email it to us if you can at email@example.com
The Government of Ghana has advanced plans to build a 700MW coal fired power plant in the country to be commenced in 2016. In the light of this, leading institutions for the project have released a 120 page Scoping Report of the Environmental & Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). Below we have summarized and simplified the report in 5 points:
- The project is called the 2x350MW Supercritical Coal-Fired Power Plant. It is planned to commence in August 2016, commission commercial operation in 2019/2020 and estimated to cost $US1.5bn. Coal would be imported from South Africa, a quantity of 1,800,000 to 2,050,000 tons per year. Back up coal sources would be considered from Columbia.
- The project has two (2) phases and would see a future expansion to 2000MW coal-fired power plant. Phase 1 is 2x350MW and phase 2 would see the development of either 4x350MW or 2x600MW plant.
- It is been developed by Shenzhen Energy Group Co. Ltd (SEG), based in China with offices in Ghana and the Volta River Authority (VRA).
- The site chosen for the project is Ekumfi Aboano, a fishing community in the Ekumfi District of the Central Region. It is located 78km west of Accra, 50km east of Cape Coast and 0.6km away from an adjacent village. The district has a population of 52,000, out of which 1,900 people live in Aboano. The population of children at the project site is a staggering 55.9%. (Figures by Ghana Statistical Service, 2014)
- An Environmental & Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the project prior to it’s commencement. However, the 120 page Scoping Report sets out and validate the extent of the ESIA and ascertain the significance of the impact of potential key areas.