30 May 2012, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC has faulted some media reports in Nigeria quoting the Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Resources, (Downstream) Honourable Dakuku Peterside as calling for the immediate closure of the Warri Refining and Petro-chemical Company over an alleged environmental pollution petition by some landlords association.
In a statement circulated to Journalists, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Corporation, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma explained that such a call was unnecessary as the operation of the WRPC is not only environmentally compliant but poses no danger to the environment, the community or the workforce as erroneously implied in the report.
He explained that the petition which was brought before the House Committee on Downstream by the Ajomata/Awhakpo Layout Landlords Association, Ekpan in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, had to do with an alleged emission of carbon black soot into an area of land legally acquired by the WRPC as part of its buffer zone but illegal encroached upon by the petitioners.
The NNPC Spokesman stated that the issue of shutdown of Warri Refinery was not on the cards during the Committees meeting with all parties, attended by some top management staff of the NNPC, since the operational integrity of the plant was never called to question.
“As a Corporation, we adhere strongly to the philosophy that lives are sacred and must be protected at all times above any other interest or consideration. Thus in constructing WRPC, and in line with international best practise we created an 8km buffer zone which was statutorily acquired with all relevant documentations. But over time this space has been seriously encroached upon by the same landlords who are now raising dust,’’ Dr. Ajuonuma stated.
He noted that even on a balance of probability, the said environmental cum health effect being portrayed are grossly exaggerated as the frequency of the carbon plant operation is very low and cannot cause the level of emission being claimed by the illegal landlords.
“We want to make it clear that the Warri Refinery and the adjunct Carbon black plant, despite the obvious perennial encroachment of its pipeline right of way as well as operating environment, are working assiduously to ensure safety of the environment, the community and workforce. Thus such a call for shut-down is totally unnecessary,’’ he said.
He also called on the Delta State Government to desist from providing building approvals for houses clearly on the NNPC Pipeline right of way and facilities.