Air Pollution: Residents Struggle To Breathe In Bayelsa’s Tombia Community
They suspect the pollution is from oil and gas facilities located near the community.
The situation is severe, with poor air quality in communities surrounding the Gbarantoru gas plant.
This is coming weeks after a thick soot was reported to be hanging in the atmosphere in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State.
The Community Development Committee Chairman in Tombia, Mr Seigha Akoko, said that the development had adversely affected respiratory functions of residents in the past few days.
He said residents of the community had reported the pollution of air in the areas surrounding the gas facility operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to the leadership of the communities.
“Our people and subjects have reported the pollution of the air around us here in the past few days, leading to respiratory complications and we have noticed several birds dropped from the air and died.
“The Paramount Ruler has summoned his cabinet and other levels of community leadership and the issue of deteriorating air quality was exhaustively discussed.
“We do suspect that it might be from the gas plant around us at Gbarantoru. So, we want the relevant government agencies to investigate and come up with results, apart from the air pollution, effluents from the facility have made the water toxic and wiped out the fish stock.
“A lot of strange things happen along the Taylor Creek, the waters no longer supply fish as used to be the case before the gas plant started operations.
“We want air quality tests to be conducted while those having respiratory difficulties should be immediately attended to, so as to trace the source. The problem is that we do not have access to the equipments to conduct most of these tests
“Our fear is that the toxicity levels here is higher than the tolerance limits and we do hope that the studies are conducted fast,” Akoko said.
Channels Television’s correspondent, Oyindoubra Timi-Wood, who visited the community reports that some residents in the area attributed respiratory difficulties they faced to the suspected air pollution.
“I have been noticing difficulties with breathing and feel pains in my lungs for the past three days, and some other people have complained of the same symptoms I am going to seek medical attention after the holidays,” a Tombia resident said.
The spokesman for the SPDC, Mr Precious Okolobo, denied that the air pollution was from its gas processing and gathering faculty.
He said: “There is no air pollution from our Gbarantoru the plant . The plant is running efficiently. Moreover, a similar thing was reported in Port Harcourt where we do not have a gas plant”.
“There is a general problem that people do not understand and people have no right to blame SPDC for everything that goes wrong”.
Residents of Port Harcourt recently started noticing black deposits on their rooftops and their cars. Their concern became deepened when the real cause or origin of the soot was unknown.
Government and residents of Rivers State had expressed worries, as scientists try to unravel the true cause of black soot.
A resident, Mr Sam Emejuru, believes there is a product of combustion which is an incomplete burning process that emits carbon.
“There are many industries that process hydro-carbon materials. Activities of illegal refineries is also a possible cause,” he said.