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Soot: Emergency situation in Port Harcourt over pollution

13 February 2017, 17:52

Port Harcourt - Getting oxygen is one thing that humans enjoy for free, but residents of Port Harcourt in Rivers State are not finding it easy to breath.

For over eight weeks, the air residents of the oil city breath is rather becoming more poisonous than it gives life.

Complaints had come from residents, as they wipe off soot from their wares, cars and other items every day.

The government, weeks after investigation started to determine the cause of the pollution in Port Harcourt and its environs, has declared the air pollution in Port Harcourt an "Emergency Situation".

Announcing the declaration, the Federal Ministry of Environment subsequently issued a notice to temporarily shut down an asphalt processing plant in Port Harcourt belching out thick smoke from its operation.

It is a strategy to bring the situation under control, the ministry said.

While investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the air pollution, has greatly impacted negatively on the air quality in the area, with attendant negative effects on socio-economic, health and environmental impact.

Source of pollution

The Federal Government had rallied all major stakeholders - the Rivers State Ministry of Environment, the Federal Ministry of Health and the people of Rivers State to find a lasting solution to arrest the ugly trend.

Also read: PHOTOS: Man erects Jonathan's statue at UNIPORT

The Ministry explained that the sources of pollution are diffuse and anthropogenic in nature (man-made), as the preliminary analyses of the soot samples have indicated that the air pollution problem was as a result of open air and incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons, burning of wastes and vegetation, burning of tyres, asphalt processing and illegal artisanal refinery operations.

Residents have been asked to protect themselves by adhering to the health guidelines that would be issued by the Health Authorities and to always ensure that their windows and doors were firmly shut when necessary.

The government also assured the residents that it would continue to work assiduously to protect its citizens and the environment from any form of air pollution

Giving a breakdown of what the State government is doing, to ensure the situation did not degenerate into a serious health crisis, the Commissioner for Information, Mr Austin Tam-George, said gas flaring could have contributed to the situation.

“We have asked oil companies to look at alternative strategies rather than just flaring gas. The UN released a commitment some months ago and the emphasis now is on healthier and more sustainable environment,” he said on national TV.

The information Minister said so much campaign is on to educate residents, but wearing of mask has not been considered.

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- News24 Nigeria

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