Panel blames fire explosion in Rivers’ community on oil thieves

Panel blames fire explosion in Rivers’ community on oil thieves

Tuesday, December 31, 2019 8:08 pm

FILE:The pipeline explosion/fire in Ondo

… Fails to recommend compensation payment for polluted sites and properties destroyed 
… Former NMA Chairman warn of dangers of infertility, disruption of ovulation and miscarriages in women.
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
A Joint Investigation Panel has blamed petrol pipeline fire explosion in Ubeta  Community in Ahoada-West Local Government Area of Rivers on activities of oil thieves engaged in illegal oil bunkering.
The implication of that  report as announced by Cyrus Nkangwung, the South-South Zonal head of National Oil Detection Spill Response Agency, NODSRA, is that the operating oil company can only be mandated to clean up the site of explosion, but not to pay any compensation for the pollution of the environment or any loss property .
Nkangwung stated that the joint investigation Committee, which had representatives of Ubeta Community as members, found out that the fire started from the sites of illegal refining by oil thieves.
He dismissed the claims that the explosion was as result of uncleaned sites of oil spills by Agip oil company.
The NODSRA boss also said that the soldiers attached to oil company discovered sites of illegal refining and destroyed some of them.
Findings by our Correspondent showed that residents of Ubeta Community are disappointed that they have incurred double loss. They lost clean and fresh vegetation to polluted environment with the hydrocarbon soot being emitted into the atmosphere.
Farmlands and fishponds were totally burnt down in Ubeta community due to an explosion in the same site on September 20 this year.
It would be recalled that Eze Chimezie Nathaniel, the paramount ruler of Ubeta community, had claimed that the explosion resulted in a raging fire that started at about  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.”
On the health implications of the exposure to pollution from petrol pipeline explosion,  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.
“Even when a woman expose to soot gets pregnant, it may cause congenital malfunctions of the baby. It may likely increase in abortions and fetal wastage (miscarriages) in the woman”.
Dr. Kurubo therefore 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.

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