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‘Importation of ‘dirty fuel’ an indictment on Nigerian authorities’

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Environmentalists have urged the Federal Government to urgently establish modular refineries in Niger Delta; following report that fuel produced by artisanal refiners in the region was of better quality than those imported from Europe.

They said the development, based on a report, “Dirty Fuel” by Stakeholders Democracy Network (SDN), which revealed that highly toxic fuels are sold to Nigeria by international commodity traders, was an indictment on Nigerian authorities.

The Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nnimmo Bassey, told The Guardian it was alarming that petroleum products produced by illegal artisanal refiners in the swamps of the Niger Delta are of better quality than imported fuel from Europe.

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Bassey said importation of toxic fuel into the country was a disservice to Nigerians, and urged the Federal Government to encourage tertiary institutions to produce modular refineries, so that people involved in illegal artisanal refining of petroleum can be engaged legitimately.  

Similarly, the Coordinator, Centre for Peace Development and Child Welfare, Inemo Samiama, said it was regrettable that Nigeria has been exposed to environmental abuses by unscrupulous businessmen in connivance with government officials, who allow dirty fuel into the country.

“It is time for the Federal Government to take a second look at the artisanal refineries and the products that are coming out of them. Maybe it is time to help these young men that undertake these activities to improve on what they are doing, regulate them. Maybe it is time to set up those mini-refineries that have been spoken about, but which are yet to start. Maybe, it is also time Nigerian government look critically at the health of Nigerians. It is a critical role of government to protect the people.

“Importation of toxic fuel into the country is an aberration and a sad indictment on federal government agencies that are not effectively doing their job…”

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The Senior Project Officer (environment), Jesse Martin Manufor, who was involved in the research of the toxic fuel, said the product emits sulphur-laden particles into the atmosphere and would continue to have serious health repercussion on people’s wellbeing.

He explained that in the course of the research, it was discovered that samples of average imported diesels in Nigeria were 2,044ppm (parts per million) for sulphur—over 204 times the limits the European Union (EU) sets as safe, compared to 1,523ppm in the average diesels produced by artisanal refiners in the Niger Delta, which was still over 152 times the EU’s limit.

Manufor warned that if the importation of toxic fuel was not stopped, it would increase frequent occurrences of bronchitis, asthmatic attacks and make people who have underlying health conditions more susceptible to Coronavirus.

He said as sulphur emitted from vehicles, generators and boat engines that use these products is released into the air, it combines with other matters in the atmosphere to form acid rain.

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Dirty FuelNnimmo Bassey
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