The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is heading back to court over the Accra Metropolitan Assembly’s (AMA’s) refusal to comply with the court’s directive to stop the discharge of untreated human excreta into the sea at Lavender Hill at Korle Gonno in Accra by the end of last year.
The Accra Regional Director of the agency, Mr Kwabena Badu-Yeboah, said a team from the EPA was at the site yesterday only to see trucks offloading the waste into the sea as usual.
“The case is already in court so we are just going back there to inform the court that the AMA reneged on its directive and the timelines agreed upon,” he said.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the assembly, Numo Blafo III, said the assembly had no comment on the issue since the case was already in court.
The EPA went to the Accra High Court in February 2014 to stop the city authority from allowing the discharge of human excreta into the sea.
The court gave the AMA seven days to shut down Lavender Hill, part of the Korle Gonno community with a nauseating stench due to the discharge of human excreta into the sea. However, the AMA pleaded with the court to give it more time to provide an alternative solution. The court, presided over by Justice K. A. Ofori Atta, agreed and gave the AMA until the end of last year to stop the practice.
Unhappy residents named the area ‘Lavender Hill’ because of the stench emanating from the volume of human excreta which is dumped there; a discomforting situation for them.
Still the same story
Nine days into the New Year, the trucks continue to release the liquid waste into the sea.
When the Daily Graphic visited the Lavender Hill yesterday, the situation had not changed. Trucks were still discharging their contents into the sea with the heavy stench still hanging in the air.
A truck driver said they were prepared to relocate if an alternative place was provided.
Depending on the size of the truck, homeowners pay between GH¢150 and GH¢300 to empty their septic tanks per trip.
More than 120 trucks dump untreated waste into the sea at Lavender Hill daily, with the AMA taking GH¢25 as levy from each truck.
But Mr Badu-Yeboah said because the agency had no control over the situation, its lawyers would go back to the court to inform the court of the AMA’s breach of the terms.
He said apart from the practice killing tourism in the area, the closure of Lavender Hill had become necessary because it could become a conduit for spreading diseases.
“There are numerous bacteria and viruses at the dump site. If people swim in those areas, they may be contracting water-borne diseases.
“The worst of all, it is also close to a landing site where fishermen dock their canoes. There is also a kraal where all manner of domestic animals are kept. People buy these animals and when they ask that they should be slaughtered for them, the sea water is used to wash them. You can imagine what that means,” he said.
Attempts at closing down Lavender Hill
The AMA has, since 2010, been saying it will close down the Lavender Hill. However, in 2013, it said six anaerobic digesters at the new scientific liquid waste facility at Mudor in Accra intended to treat the waste into organic material and biofuel could not process the 120 trucks of liquid waste generated in a day.
The facility could handle 60 trucks and the rest had to be dumped at the Lavender Hill, making it difficult for the city authorities to completely shut down the dumping site.
In future, Mr Badu-Yeboah said, there was the need to consider other alternatives including using the waste to generate gas and electricity.
“We should even consider composting. Those alternatives are better than discharging it into the sea. It is not for any reason that we channel it into septic tanks.
“Why do we always want to throw it into the sea? The dumping is not the only solution,” he said.
What other countries are doing
In countries such as the United Kingdom, Singapore and the United States, some communities are already turning human waste into energy. In Rwanda, five of the country’s largest prisons now have biogas plants producing 50 per cent of the gas needed to cook for prisoners.