URE unity

Daily Trust - - DIGEST -

say­ing that Rido is now bet­ter off with the re­fin­ery dis­charg­ing its cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to it.

“I have been on the throne for 20 years now. When I mounted this throne the vil­lage was with­out elec­tric­ity, we had no se­condary school, no health facility, and no peo­ple that work in gov­ern­ment. But thank God for the in­ter­ven­tion of the KRPC we have all these now.”

How­ever, find­ings showed lit­tle ev­i­dence to sup­port the lo­cal chief’s as­ser­tion. The road lead­ing to his palace is it­self in a bad state.

Killer fumes

Our cor­re­spon­dents, who vis­ited the com­mu­nity weeks after the re­fin­ery restarted oper­a­tions, saw flames flar­ing up from the re­fin­ery and the thick black smoke emit­ted from there dif­fus­ing into the vil­lage.

Re­finer­ies ev­ery­where emit gases like sul­fur diox­ide, ni­tro­gen ox­ide, car­bon monox­ide, methane and ben­zene which, ac­cord­ing to re­search find­ings, are harm­ful to hu­mans.

Rido res­i­dents pre­vail­ingly com­plain that gases emit­ted from the re­fin­ery have had grave health and en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fect on them over time.

Pas­tor Kan­toma Musa said, “This smoke is af­fect­ing our health be­cause most times when our peo­ple go to the hos­pi­tal they will be told they have liver prob­lem, they will say it is this smoke.”

The vil­lagers alleged that the com­pany in 2012 dumped toxic waste close to a river in the vil­lage which led to the death of some chil­dren and an adult in the vil­lage as well as birds and an­i­mals in a nearby poul­try farm be­fore.

While res­i­dents com­plained of giv­ing birth to chil­dren who talk ab­nor­mally al­legedly due to the toxic waste dumped by KRPC, the com­pany’s management dis­missed such complaints as base­less be­cause they are not backed by clin­i­cal ev­i­dences.

Some med­i­cal ex­perts af­firmed that ex­po­sure over time to pol­lu­tants from es­pe­cially re­finer­ies are deadly.

A Con­sul­tant Car­di­ol­o­gist, Univer­sity of Abuja Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal, Dr. Dike Ojji said air pol­lu­tion from re­finer­ies has been linked to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases be­cause it causes in­flam­ma­tion or a re­ac­tion on the wall of the ves­sel that sup­plies blood to the heart.

“When it does that, it can cause some form of block­age of those ar­ter­ies so that it can contribute to what we call heart at­tack whereby there is re­duced blood sup­ply to the heart.”

Dr. Best Or­dinioha, a Con­sul­tant Pub­lic Health Physi­cian, Univer­sity of Port Harcourt Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal, Port Harcourt said ex­po­sure to flares from re­finer­ies also causes deadly prob­lems to the res­pi­ra­tory system.

“When it af­fects the heart and the lungs peo­ple can die, es­pe­cially those that are old and those that are sick,” he said.

Dr. Or­dinioha also noted the pos­si­bil­ity of con­tact­ing can­cer from re­fin­ery’s waste dis­charges.

“Waste­water dis­charges are at times sup­posed to be treated, but in a lot of cases they are not well treated, which means they can con­tam­i­nate the en­vi­ron­ment; a lot of these hy­dro­car­bons are known to be car­cino­genic. Peo­ple can get into con­tact with those can­cer-caus­ing chemicals through water and they can get those car­cino­gens through their food sup­ply; but in most cases it is not usu­ally through the gas flare but through prob­a­bly the re­fin­ery’s ef­flu­ent dis­charges,” he said.

The plight of Rido com­mu­nity is stir­ring con­cern among en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­perts who are call­ing for improved leg­is­la­tion on air pol­lu­tion stan­dards from re­finer­ies.

Checks show that many coun­tries have taken bold steps in im­ple­ment­ing stan­dards for re­fin­ery emis­sions.

In the US, for in­stance, new air stan­dards for oil re­fin­ery emis­sions, was re­leased by the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) last year. The new stan­dards for the first time ever re­quire all re­finer­ies in the US to mon­i­tor and re­port re­leases of can­cer-caus­ing air emis­sions into lo­cal neigh­bor­hoods.

The new rule di­rects re­finer­ies to in­stall air mon­i­tors “on the fence” where pol­lu­tion leaves the re­fin­ery and pours into neigh­bor­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

The Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of Con­nected De­vel­op­ment (CODE), Hamzat Lawal, said Nige­ria has sim­i­lar laws but lacks in­sti­tu­tions empowered to en­force them.

“En­force­ment has al­ways been the is­sue; take for in­stance, do we even have sta­tis­tics on the gas that has been flared? We don’t have that, and even if we have it, where is it? These are the data that these com­mu­ni­ties or in­sti­tu­tions will use to pros­e­cute or hold com­pa­nies that are emit­ting gases to ac­count.”

Lawal said the im­pact of re­finer­ies emis­sions is a ma­jor con­cern be­cause there have been re­ported cases over time of high level of can­cer and liver fail­ure.

The DPR whose re­spon­si­bil­i­ties it is to en­force en­vi­ron­men­tal and Safety con­sid­er­a­tions in re­finer­ies de­sign and con­struc­tion as con­tained in the Petroleum Re­fin­ing Regulation 1974, re­quire the flare stack of a re­fin­ery be lo­cated, “at a dis­tance of 60m (200ft) from the unit or stor­age tanks” and for the flare to con­form to the ap­proved limit of at­mo­spheric emis­sion.”

The Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of KRPC, Idi Muk­tar, said although it is the duty of the gov­ern­ment at all lev­els to provide so­cial ameni­ties to com­mu­ni­ties, KRPC has been do­ing a lot to the neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing in Rido, in order to com­ple­ment gov­ern­ments’ ef­forts.

He said the com­pany has been in­vest­ing in the so­cial ad­vance­ment of the com­mu­ni­ties, which in­clude Rido, by pro­vid­ing them safe drink­ing water from bore­holes, ren­o­vat­ing and es­tab­lish­ing pri­mary schools as well as pro­vid­ing books and fur­ni­ture, med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and youth em­pow­er­ment and employment.

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