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‘FG yet to address Nnewi gas emission’

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A DANGEROUS gas emission site in Nnewi has claimed lives and many resident being hospitalized but the Federal Geohazards Agency is yet to act on it.

A report was submitted to it by the Mineral Resource and Environmental Committee (MORE) of Anambra State on the recent mysterious chemical emission in Nnewi, Nnewi North Local Government Area, following continued burning of lignite in Umuzu Mbana, Otolo.

Commissioner for Environment, Arc Michael Okonkwo, decried the development yesterday, saying that the federal agency failed to intervene despite the comprehensive report of his ministry that contained details of findings by other bodies that investigated the gaseous smoke emission in Nnewi.

According to Okonkwo, upon being made aware of the emission in March, he led the Ministry of Environment to the site in Nnewi for an on-the-spot assessment without a view to collation of more dossiers by Mineral Resource and Environmental Committee (MORE), whose membership includes the State’s Ministry of Environment, that would enhance further investigations into the disaster, adding that the Ministry immediately submitted its reports to the Federal Government via Federal Ministry of Environment and National Environmental Standard and Regulatory Agency (NESRA).

The commissioner also stated that the Geological Science Department of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu University (COOU), on their own, conducted a test and found out that the smoke was coming from burning lignite (that is brown coal) which got ignited due to human activities in the area, particularly from the mineral deposits of lignite, which their study discovered have a plane which spans from Ozubulu axis down to Umunze in Orumba-South L. G. A, then to Isuochi in Abia State.

It will be recalled that no fewer than seven persons reportedly died with scores of other residents hospitalised in the area, owing to environmental impact of the gaseous emission that rocked Nnewi last March. Experts said that the poisonous smoke was emitted from lignite while sending out gas with irritating sulphurous odour.

President General of the community, Tony Afam Muodielo, lamented the devastating effect of the chemical discovered at a site in that community sometime, regretting that residents are exposed to more hazards because of  failure to act swiftly by relevant agencies of government to save his people from the killer chemical. He added that death toll has continued to rise almost on weekly basis since the disaster occurred.

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