29 April 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has called on the Federal and Rivers State Government to urgently put an end to every soot causing agents, including illegal refineries in Rivers State and its environs.
According to the senior oil workers’ union, the soot, in the form of thick black smoke which covers the entire state, could be the root cause of some of the respiratory problems being experienced by inhabitants of Port Harcourt.
A statement by the PENGASSAN’s National Public Relations Officer, Mr. Fortune Obi, said the air pollution was not getting any serious attention because most of the people affected are still performing their daily task while they swim in the soot that has been confirmed by experts to be carcinogenic.
Obi warned that the health implications of the endemic black soot in Port Harcourt could be worse than Ebola if long-term on the long-term effect.
He added that PENGASSAN in collaboration with other concerned bodies and citizens have severally created awareness to call the attention of the government to act swiftly and put an end to whatever is the source of the killer soot.
According to the statement, “The black soot settles on everything and finds its way into the corners of living rooms no matter how hard people try to stop it. Food items in Port Harcourt markets are as well not spared from getting mixed with this deadly soot that is ever present everywhere.
“Majority believed that the source of this soot is due to incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons as well as asphalt processing, burning of barges/vessels used for oil bunkering and illegal artisanal refinery operations in some parts of the state.
“There is the need for collaboration among all stakeholders to end this environmental hazard. We, therefore, call on the State and the Federal Government to put a strategic action in place to finally address this black soot and put an end to whatever is the source.
“This is not the time to play politics with people’s lives. The Federal and State Governments, security agencies as well as all agencies in charge of environment including National Emergency Management Agency NEMA, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR,and other agencies handling related issues should tow a defined and safe path in handling illegal oil vessels as well as the criminal act of illegal refining of crude oil that are said to be the key reason of this menace.
“The governments should also involve the locals and possibly constitute them into Environmental councils to monitor their areas for any possible illegal refining of the crude and such other dangerous acts that are inimical to human existence.
“Criminals perpetrating these evils should be arrested and prosecuted,” PENGASSAN said in the statement.