The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) may impose a $50,000 penalty on the Shipping Company for polluting the Tema Port environment with heavy marine oil (HFO) spilled from its container vessel.
The company and the terminal operators, according to officials of the GPHA, would also be surcharged with the cost of cleaning the oil from the surface of the water.
The spillage, said to have occurred at about 3.00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, spread to the new jetty under construction and dry-dock areas.
The marine dock, oil jetty and VALCO Wharf, as well as the leeway breakwater of the canoe beach and portions of the fishing harbour were also affected.
“We have an oil spill contingency plan in place and we would have responded immediately to minimise the effect of the spill if we had prior notice”, Mr Adorkor said.
“The spillage only came to our attention on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, when our security men, who were on an international standardisation organisation (ISO) compliance patrol at the port, smelled the oil in the environment”, Mr Adorkor asserted.
He said the massive nature of the spill was only known after an investigation was conducted following the report received from the security patrol team.
According to Mr Adorkor, the vessel was said to be ballasting when the spillage occurred.
The director suggested that the vessel’s tanks got contaminated in the process of ballasting, thus causing officials to spill the oil since the vessel had no oil spill response equipment on board.
He stressed that while it is an international regulation that the port authority should be informed in situations of ballast spills, the two entities failed to do so, hence “our resolve to penalise them to send a signal to other port users that you cannot pollute the port and go scot-free”.
“The cleaning process would last for two weeks due to the severity of the spill and we can only declare the port to be oil-free after the process has been certified by our safety personnel”, Mr Adorkor stressed.
Mr Adorkor pointed out that the spill, apart from polluting the marine environment, also had a lot of environmental implications on the ecology of the harbour basin.