His Royal Highness King Appolus Chu summons Indorama Petrochemical LTD, to clarify ongoing project in the community
The paramount ruler of Ogale, and Egbere Emere Okori and Oneh Eh Nchia X of Eleme, His Royal Highness King Dr. Appolus Chu has called on Indorama Petrochemical Ltd and Rivers State Ministry of Land and Housing to a town hall and stakeholders meeting as part of community engagement to observe protocol on the enumeration exercise in the community over the ongoing proposed projects.
According to a statement signed by HRH Appolus Chu, Indorama Petrochemical needs to fully engage the community through town hall meetings in order to give clarifications on the proposed project, whether it is intended to pave a new route in its host community or an installation of pipelines for transportation of their products, as the people of Ogale community should be properly informed, educated and enlightened about the cautionary steps, eventual side effects and concerns of the project if any. He said: “This will give room for the company to throw lights on the environmental impacts and health effects of their intended project. However, avoidance of protocol equates politicising the normal procedure of undertaking a project on a host community soil.”
He further said: “Nigeria is a democratic nation, with inscription of fundamental human rights in the constitution, amongst which is freedom of expression. Many Nigerians feel reluctant and unwilling to ask questions especially when government or personalities are involved or have interest in the subject matter, even though it concerns their welfare, environment and well-being. In Rivers state there is an ongoing clean up initiated by the Buhari administration as recommended in a 2011 United Nations Environment Report, commissioned by the Nigeria government, on the impact of oil extraction in Ogoniland which my community, Ogale is one of the communities affected. The report found severe and widespread contamination of soil and ground water across Ogoniland. In a number of locations public health was severely threatened by contaminated drinking water and carcinogens. Delta ecosystems such as mangroves had been utterly devastated. The report also found that institutional control measures in place both in the oil and gas industry and the Government were not implemented adequately. The report proposed the establishment of a Restoration Authority with an explicit mandate to clean up Ogoniland and restore the ecosystems and also recommended the establishment of an Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Fund with an initial capitalisation of 1billion Dollars to cover the clean-up costs. This cleanup is a result of environmental impact that happened over 50 years ago.”
HRH Chu continued: “A community which has suffered the consequences of environmental impact of oil spillage would not fold their hands and do nothing when they see another possible window of further passing dangerous chemicals capable of causing environmental and health hazards in their community. For instance in Ogale clan, there are numerous pipeline networks ranging from PPMC, Shell Petroleum Development Company, and now Indorama Petrochemical ltd is to run pipelines for their commercial purpose, so we need to have a community engagement on these new projects. Not forgetting the environmental disturbance and challenge in Rivers state called Black soot, in every direction, lives are at stake.”
“The unclear issue on Eleme Petrochemical Company paving an alternative route through Agbonchia, Ogale, Ebubu to Onne seaport for easy conveyance of their products, is generating so many questions, yet unanswered. Is it really a road? Or is it a pipeline they want to lay, for convenient and easy conveyance of their products? So many questions, yet unanswered. If it’s a road they want to construct as a social responsibility to the community, it should be clearly stated so the community can appreciate them. Or is it a pipeline they want to run through our community? Or is there something they don’t want to disclose? Or are they seeing the community as uncivilised and still living in the past? That’s why they are avoiding community engagement and meetings? Knowing full well that, Petrochemical products are large group of chemicals derived from natural gas and Petroleum and further used for variety of chemicals purposes, which includes aliphatic, aromatic, and naphthenic organic chemicals, as well as carbon black and such inorganic materials as sulfur and ammonia. As such, if pipelines are run close to residential areas or communities, the people are exposed to health and environmental risks. If there be mechanical faults, the chemicals transported in the pipelines could pose great health and environmental challenges to the people, it could result in unprecedented casualties.”
He however cited that a United States research published in June 2003 by the Hazardous Substance Research Centre South and South-West noted that, the potential environmental hazards associated with refineries have caused increased concern for communities in proximity to them. “Some environmental hazards include air pollution, water pollution and soil pollution. The research also shows that refineries are a major source of hazardous and toxic air pollutants such as Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene (BTEX) compounds. They are also a major source of
Criteria air pollutants: Particulate Matter (PM), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Carbon monoxide (CO), Hydrogen
sulfide (H2S), and Sulfur dioxide (SO2).
Refineries also release less toxic hydrocarbons such as natural gas (methane) and other light volatile fuels and oils. Some of the chemicals released are known or suspected cancer-causing agents, responsible for developmental and reproductive problems. They may also aggravate certain respiratory conditions such as childhood asthma. Along with the possible health effects from exposure to these chemicals, these chemicals may cause worry and fear among residents of surrounding communities.”
HRH Chu emphasized that environmental hazards are deadlier than banditry and COVID- 19. So with all these available information, laying of pipelines in the residential area or community definitely gives rise to questions which would only be sorted through engaging the community in a Town hall meeting for proper education with necessary documentation as regards the benefits of the project to the community, and a signage of memorandum of understanding, between the Indorama Petrochemical ltd and the pipeline host communities. Another point that needs clarification is, what kind of product or products would be transported in the pipelines? because we need to know the number of products that would be passing through the lines, what’s their names and hazards of each product as they switch over, time to time in transportation for exports. What are the categories of pipe to be used? Is it coated, plain, or plastic pipes? Each of these pipes determines the environmental safety level. What are the engineering recommendations on installation of the pipes? Is it going to be surface or in depth pipe? How deep will the excavation be? What will be the size and what are the control measures put in place because the bigger the size of the pipe, the higher the volume of products transported through it and incase of mechanical failure, it would tell the volume of products spilled in the environment and impact on the people. What should my people be concerned about? What are the peculiar hazards associated with such products to humans and the environment, in case of mechanical faults on the pipeline. On the other hand, if Indorama Petrochemical is paving an alternate route for commercial purposes, is the company incorporating the community as its host? The road will obviously boost the company’s value by warranting easy transportation of its products. How is the community going to benefit from this value chain? So many questions, yet to be answered. Some said, the Indorama is laying pipelines for a more economical, safe, convenient and reliable transportation of their products to Onne seaport for exports, some said it’s paving an alternate route. Either way, the company should engage the community and set the records straight by educating and properly informing the community on the intended project.”
“This is the 21st century, the world has moved past the age of ignorance. My community and my subjects reserve the right to know what is happening on their soul, what they would be sacrificing and what they stand to gain, the expected or possible hazards, the compensation to the people should there be mechanical failure or situation, the company should give the people the opportunity to debate either for or against their wish, until an agreement is reached.Indorama Petrochemical ltd is a private owned company like any other business registered with Corporate Affairs Commission, whose products are mainly for commercial purposes and for their personal benefits.
Therefore, their personal interest shouldn’t affect the well-being of my people. As the company grows, expands and smiles to the bank as it makes more profits, my people should smile to the bank too from our own contribution as one of the stakeholders and contributors to their success. Not when the community is neglected while they smile to the bank with fat cheques and my subjects frown to the hospital and graveyard due to the consequences of their products. As such, Indorama should be especially cautious of the lives and environmental concerns of its activities. This is key to the lives, progress and development of my community.”