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12.04.2008 General News

Government Urged To Check Import Of Electronic Waste

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Government has been urged to institute stringent measurers to check the huge importation of electronic waste being dumped in  the country.

Mr Mike Anane, a laureate of the United Nations Environment Programme Global 500 and Co-ordinator of a campaign dubbed: 'Stop the Exportation and Dumping of Toxic Waste,' further called on government to review the nation's environmental laws and regulations to stem the importation of electronic waste.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra yesterday, Mr Anane said the increasing exportation of electronic waste (e-waste) had had several implications on the nation's health and the environment.

These include the outbreak of respiratory diseases, eye defects and other related ailments.

Mr Anane expressed concern about the upsurge of imported electronic waste such as used computers, television and air conditioners, saying they were brought under the pretext of recycling.

He noted that the nation did not have any recycling plant to tackle these electronic wastes, stressing that the dismantling and burning of those wastes could not be classified as recycling.

Agbogbloshie Market in Accra is one of the spots of dismantling and burning of e-waste. Dismantled computers are sold in tonnes to prospective agents who in turn sell them to companies.

While these dismantled e-wastes are bagged and shipped to China and other countries, copper and other metals embedded in them are sold to local firms for a fee.

Mr Anane noted that the United Nations Environment Programme estimated that 20-50 million tonnes of electronics were discarded each year with 70 per cent of these products being shipped to poor nations.

'These machines are obsolete, not functional, they contain an array of toxic materials, including lead, mercury and brominated flame retardants which were destined for landfills,' he said

Mr Anane observed that the preserved 'Korle Lagoon,' was now dead as a result of the activities of the scrap dealers who dismantled the electronic waste on the banks of the lagoon.

According to Mr Anane, most of the e-waste exported could not be refurbished hence they ended up in rivers, lagoons streams, among other places, stressing that these wastes contained dangerous elements that were inimical to the health of millions of people and the environment.

He said e-waste in Ghana had reached crisis proportion noting that each week containers of discard computers, television sets and even lead acid automotive batteries were shipped from industrialised nations.

'Children in particular are highly susceptible to toxic substances, which could lead to long term cancers that affected the lungs and all parts of the body,' he added.

Mr Anane said irresponsible exportation and dumping of e-waste by industrialised countries presented a major international environmental justice scandal, which should be condemned by all.

He, therefore, appealed to government to review the nation's environmental laws and regulations as well as penalties contained in them to ensure that waste brokers and recyclers were not tempted to breach them.

Mr Anane mentioned Germany, Holland, United Kingdom and United States of America as some of the routes where more e-wastes were shipped from and appealed to the international communities to accelerate efforts in order to reduce the risks posed by e-waste.

'A host of developed countries are already grappling with what to do with the piles of discarded e-waste. Exporting them to developing countries including Ghana is increasingly becoming one of the most preferred ways of getting rid of them,' he said.

He called on manufacturers to disclose publicly hazardous substances in their products and proper techniques for managing them.

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