The Central Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr. Kwasi Owusu-Sekyere, observed on Thursday that there is the urgent need for the country to train bio-scientists to effectively monitor the environment of both marine and onshore habitats that are likely to be affected by the oil and gas industry which is new in Ghana.
He noted that the discovery and subsequent production of oil and gas in Ghana makes it imperative to give much more attention to issues on the environment as well as the industry and cited painful experiences of other oil-producing countries, stressing that it should not be Ghana’s story.
Mr. Owusu-Sekyere made the observation at the launch of the 26th Annual Week Celebration of the University College of Cape Coast (UCC) chapter of the Biological Sciences Students Association of Ghana (BIOSSTAG) on campus under the theme "The role of the biologist in oil and gas exploration in Ghana".
He said even though petroleum products are very useful, they can also become major sources of environmental pollution in the air, land and sea and therefore bio-scientists have important roles to play in that industry, of which Ghana which must exploit to its highest benefit.
"Light fractions of petroleum are often sources of fire risks and explosions while heavy fractions tend to persist a long time in the environment affecting plant and animal life and eventually alter the beauty and purity of the environment", he emphasized.
Mr. Owusu-Sekyere said there should also be constant ecological monitoring of the sea in the immediate vicinity of the oil well to alert of any possible changes at the early stages for corrective measures to be implemented.
Public health and sanitation of the people of the catchment area must also be of interest to the oil industry because local economies of the catchment communities may change for better or worse since it could affect their traditional livelihoods and also sometimes change their demographical status, he declared.
He said research teams should come together to find biotechnological solutions to the plastic waste menace which destroys the beauty of towns and cities due to their non-biodegradable nature.
The Assistant Dean of the School of Biological Sciences (SBS), Dr. Kwaku Ansah Monnie noted that the world’s economy today was linked up with the exploration, production and trade in crude oil and its numerous derivatives could affect every sector of every country’s economy.
The President of BIOSSTAG, Mr. Kingsley Amo Brempong, gave a brief history of the Association and said it sought among others, to promote interest in the study of biological sciences in Ghana and to keep its members abreast with current developments of the biological sciences and its new findings.
He said the SBS could play major roles in making the oil exploration a successful story in the country.