12 June 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – MEMBERS of Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum, Downstream, have advised the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to shut down the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company, WRPC, due to the dangerous emission of carbon black on the environment.
The Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum, Downstream, Hon. Dakuku Peterside, made the call in a statement after a meeting with stakeholders over the lingering crisis between the refinery and the Ekpan community.
The call followed a petition written to the committee, entitled, “A Save Our Soul Appeal” written by Ajomata/Awhakpor Landlords Association of Ekpan, dated May 24.
In the petition to the committee were urged to sanction NNPC over the life-threatening carbon black soot being emitted into their environment.
According to the landlords, “This appeal was necessitated by the reckless emissions of dangerous carbon black soot/chemicals into our environment on a daily basis without due care and keeping to international best practices.
“Our continuous appeals in writing and physical visitation to the management of the said company and their supervising Ministry of Petroleum over the years have been ignored, as they have never replied any of our letters nor stopped the life-threatening nuisance that their emissions have become.”
The landlords alleged that whenever the carbon black soot is released, within a few minutes, all persons, water, air, land, clothes and even pets and domestic animals in the Ajomata/Awhakpor area would be soaked in carbon black soot.
According to them, people could hardly stay outside their homes for 10 minutes without getting their clothes soaked with carbon black soot.
They also claimed their children were the most affected as they are always in and out of hospital for sundry ailments such as respiratory infections, heart diseases and asthma attacks.
They recalled that in 2006, fishes in the pond of one Sir Elijah Atomatofa all died from pollution from the carbon black soot, adding that many of the indigenes were forced to relocate from the locality thereafter.
After a comprehensive meeting with all the relevant stakeholders which included the people of Ajomata/Awhakpor community; NNPC; the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR; Ministry of the Environment; National Environmental Standards and Regulatory Enforcement Agency, NESREA; the Environmental Rights Action, ERA, and the committee leaders, the lawmakers called for the suspension of operations at the plant.
Speaking on behalf of members, Peterside, called on the NNPC to shut down the plant as a matter of urgency. According to him, WRPC will further be endangering human life if it continues any form of production.