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EPA holds National Public Hearing
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday organised a national public hearing on the Environmental Impact Assessment of phase one of the Jubilee Oil field Project in Accra.

The hearing was organised by the EPA to enable government officials and other strategic stakeholders to inform the public about the project and evaluate the potential risks and how to handle them in line with sustainable environmental management practices.

The platform sought public opinion in the decision making process and offered Tullow Oil Ghana the opportunity to communicate the company's commitment to the on-going social and environmental management programmes.

Participants at the hearing raised issues concerning the environment, the Floating Production and Storage Units, job opportunities and benefits of the project to the country in particular and the operational communities in general.

Mr Kofi Essuon, Government and External Relations Manager of Tullow oil Ghana said the company was committed to high standards to safeguard the environment and the health of the people through responsible operations and management of the natural resource.

"We are ready to build partnerships for sustainable economic and social development for the benefit of the country and to support the future of enterprises and communities," he said.

To enhance information flow, Mr Essuon said the company would support the district assemblies and community leaders in providing information on the project, appoint-locally-based community liaison officers and fisheries liaison officers to provide information and listen to the concerns of the people especially fishermen.

In addition, the company will continue to engage with communities through the lifespan of the project.

He said the company had prepared a corporate social responsibility strategy, which had established a collaborative approach in the development of its Community Social Responsibility Investment Programme by providing access to good health, capacity building through education, entrepreneurial development and environmental protection.

On the livelihood of fishermen in the project area, Mr Essuon said inshore fishing and fish catches would not be affected although some fish would be attracted to the floating production and storage units.

In this direction, Tullow plans to appoint a community liaison officer and meet regularly with fishers to listen to any concerns they may have and also to inform them of project activities and vessel sailing routes.

While admitting that the project will generate a range of waste, Mr Essuon said the company was developing a long-term waste management strategy by working with local companies to manage waste.

"Tullow will take responsibility for ensuring safe and proper disposal of wastes," he said.

The public hearing was part of the mandatory process Tullow was committed to before securing a permit to start oil drilling.

The Accra forum was the last in the series after Jomoro, Ellembele, Nzema East, Ahanta West, Shama and Sekondi-Takoradi.

Ms. Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, said the development of sustainable environmental oil industry must be the concern for all.

She said it was important that the public, which would feel the impact of the project, were consulted at all levels to guide sound decision making.

Ms Ayittey expressed the hope that in future social impact assessment would be conducted separately from that of the environment.
Source: GNA

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