PENGASSAN seeks FG’s intervention to end soot menace in Port Harcourt
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has sought Federal Government’s intervention and collaboration among relevant agencies to address the soot menace presently constituting environmental hazard in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
It urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and its Rivers State counterpart, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSRDA), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and other environmental agencies to act fast to check the menace.
They should follow a defined and safe path in handling illegal oil vessels, as well as illegal refining of crude oil said to be the major cause of the menace.
A statement by the association’s National Public Relations Officer, Comrade Fortune Obi, explained that the soot, which occurs yearly in the form of thick black smoke, and covers the entire Port Harcourt city during the dry season, could be responsible for some of the respiratory problems being experienced by residents of Port Harcourt.
Obi said PENGASSAN, in collaboration with other concerned bodies and citizens have severally created awareness to call government’s attention to act swiftly and end the soot.
While demanding that those perpetrating the evil should be arrested and prosecuted, he said the soot results from incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons, asphalt processing, burning of barges and vessels used for oil bunkering, as well as illegal artisanal refinery operations in parts of the state.
He said the health implications of the endemic black soot in Port Harcourt could be worse than Ebola if its long-term effects were properly evaluated.
“This is not the time to play politics with people’s lives. 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 not spared from getting mixed and contaminated with this deadly soot everywhere.
“The governments should also involve the locals and possibly constitute them into environmental councils to monitor their areas for any possible illegal refining of crude oil and such other dangerous activities dangerous to human existence,” Obi said.