Two people, including a primary school girl, collapsed and several others have been hospitalised following a chemical spillage in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi.
Officials of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the region say the spillage was due to the “inappropriate” way the chemical was handled.
The catastrophic incident left thousands of inhabitants suffocating, gasping for breath on Thursday as the chemical produced pungent odour.
The toxic pesticide, Dimethoate leaked into the environment from a Kumasi based agro-chemical factory, Kumark Company, Thursday, forcing an immediate evacuation of hundreds of residents in the immediate vicinity.
Luv News’ Erastus Donkor, who himself is a victim, told Evans Mensah on Joy FM’s Top Story he has been seeking medical attention, and doctors have told him to stay away from the affected area.
He said he feels “drowsy, drain and weak”.
He described the odour as irritating and difficult to stand. It is even more problematic for residents as he said it was scarce in the afternoon to even find a nearby place where people can get fresh air, he reported, noting that people, especially children, are covering their mouths and noses with handkerchiefs.
Erastus Donkor said the girl who collapsed, a pupil of the Roman Catholic (RC) Primary School, was on her way home with her colleagues after the school was closed down impulsively due to the incident. She was rushed to a nearby health centre.
A security man in the same school was reported to have also collapsed, he learnt.
Meanwhile, experts have warned the health risks can be devastating.
There is conflicting information coming from the Environmental Protection Agency about the legal status of the factory.
Ashanti Regional Director of the EPA, Isaac Osei admitted the company does not have the permit to operate, stating that EPA does not know about existence of that particular chemical there.
He contended that failure of the factory owner to report the leakage to the EPA was even illegal. He said the extent of damage would have been mitigated if he had reported it.
But Mr Osei’s account was sharply contradicted by the Deputy Public Affairs Director with the EPA, Angelina Mensah who said the company is duly registered.
She said the company is registered as well as the chemicals and other materials in the factory.
“What the EPA team has identified was that the man’s housekeeping was not appropriate,” she remarked.
The District Chief Executive for Atwima Kwanwoma, Tony Nyame told Joy News they visited the factory with the owner, and they have been advised not to “antagonise” him so that he can cooperate with them to find a lasting solution to the problem.
However, he said the owner could be charged for “negligence”, saying the chemicals were not handled “professionally”.
He said personnel from the Ghana National Fire service have been putting foams on the remnants as the EPA prepares to evacuate the chemicals to a landfill site.
He was sure the incident would not affect Friday’s elections.