CAPPA – Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

Soot: Shortened lifespan, fertility problems, others pose danger to Niger Delta – Activists

The alarming effects of Soot in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria has raised concerns to environmental activists, who decried that life expectancy in the region has dropped and many cases of infertility have increased.

The activists made these submissions on Friday in Port Harcourt at a civil society, communities and media discussion on Soot Pollution organised by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA).

Speaking on the role of fossil fuels industry in soot pollution, Mr Ken Henshaw of We the People, reiterated that life expectancy in the Niger Delta is now 42 years.

He also informed that findings from a study made by some foreign researchers, revealed that in the next 15 years, there will be a rise in the birth of deformed babies.

Henshaw lamented that since 64 years of oil extraction Nigeria, 13ml barrels of crude oil have been spilled, thereby causing affliction to the people.

He stressed that it is appalling to understand that the Federal government does not see gas flaring as health hazard but an economic loss.

He also informed that Soot is no longer resident in Port Harcourt but has spread to neighbouring states like Bayelsa, Delta and Imo.

He urged the Federal government to address Soot and its sources before it completely ravages the lives of the people.

Earlier speaking, the Director of Programmes, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Philip Jakpor, said that the dangers of soot pollution came to limelight about seven years ago in Port Harcourt.

He said soot is composed of a variety of chemicals and its exact composition depends strongly on what is being burned. Findings later showed that this soot is associated with legal and illegal refining activities.

“Around October 2020, the Rivers State Government said it would implement the report and recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee set up to investigate the cause of the soot.

“The committee was headed by a professor at the University of Port Harcourt and a two-time Commissioner for Environment, Roselyn Konya. The committee found that about 22,077 persons have suffered from respiratory related ailments attributable to the toxic soot in five years.

“The findings came from 20 experts from various inter-disciplinary and relevant fields, including a consultant physician and dermatologist at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital. Their report blamed the soot pollution on illegal refineries and gas flaring,” he said.

Jakpor also added that recently Rivers State government has taken of intermediate measures to halt the destruction of illegal oil refineries by open burning.

“But the practice is still ongoing, and the illegal gas flaring has not stopped. Such is the impunity and pervasiveness of the fossil fuels industry and extractive activities without responsibility or accountability to the people, he said.

Among other environmentalists who spoke at the meeting include Emem Okon, Executive Director of Kabetkache Women Development Centre, Aderonke Ige of CAPPA, Prof. Sofiri Joab-Peterside and Comrade Celestine Abobari.

Source: Nature News

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