Panic has gripped residents of Ubeta Community in Ahoada-West Local Government Area of Rivers over another explosion at an oil spill site in the area and the attendant pollution of their environment due to emission of hydrocarbon soot into atmosphere.
Eze Chimezie Nathaniel, the paramount ruler of Ubeta community, confirmed that the explosion resulted in a raging fire that started at about 3pm yesterday at an old oil spill site owned by the Agip oil company.
“I was coming in from Ahoada when I saw some soldiers along the P and T road and when I looked up, I saw a heavy bellow of smoke from an oil spill site that occurred more than a month now and no clean up has been done on it. The community is not happy because the heap smoke is not only scary but constitute environmental hazards to residents.
“We don’t know what to do. When there is a spillage the company should do the needful as soon as possible to avoid this kind of disaster instead of bothering the people. What I saw in the sky today is definitely going to be source of health challenge to the people. We are not happy.”
Farmlands and fishponds were totally burnt down in Ubeta community due to an explosion in the same site on September 20 this year.
The explosion was said have been caused by vandalization of the pipeline by suspected oil thieves.
It was gathered that there had been attempt to clean up oil spill site by the Agip oil company due to the intervention of National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency, NOSDRA. But it was clear how far the clean up had gone before the current explosion.
Pipeline explosion due to oil spillage is one of the commonest cause of Environmental disaster among the oil bearing Communities in the Niger Delta.
Most of the spillages are due to the activities oil thieves, illegal oil bunkering and equipment failure.
Dr. Ibitorukuemi Kurubo, former Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, who is also a senior medical
Doctor and an Endocrinologist with the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH, warned that constant inhalation of poisonous soot by people could cause infertility among women, still birth, miscarriages,increase respiratory complications, especially in children and asthmatic patients.
He said inhaling hydrocarbon consistently may affect the reproductive hormones and may stop ovulation in some women.
“The soot also has an effect in the reproductive system of the body.Direct exposure to the hydrocarbons may affect fertility hormones in the body of the women. The first thing is the alterations of the hormones system in our body. For the woman, it may cause her not to ovulate as regularly as she used to and overtime, ovulation itself may stop. And without ovulation, she cannot have fertility.”
He also said” Even when a woman expose to soot gets pregnant, it may cause congenital malfunctions of the baby. It may likely increase in abortions and feutal wastage (miscarriages) in the woman”.
Dr. Ibitorukuemi Kurubo, called on government at all levels to stop hydrocarbon emissions into the air to save lives because everybody is at risk because we must breathe in air.