Senate investigates explosion, environmental pollution in Bayelsa

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Senate has constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the massive explosion and environmental pollution close to Gbarain-Ubie gas processing

By Haruna Salami

Senate has constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the massive explosion and environmental pollution close to Gbarain-Ubie gas processing facility in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa state.

The ad-hoc committee, which comprised of Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of Committees on Petroleum, (Upstream and Downstream,) Host Communities ,Gas, Niger- Delta, Environment and Health was mandated to ascertain the cause of explosion and its effect and report back to plenary in four weeks.

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Senate decision followed adoption of a motion on “need for urgent action on massive explosion close to Gbarain-Ubie gas processing facility in Yenagoa Bayelsa state and pollution of the environment sponsored by Senator Benson Konbowei (Bayelsa Central).

Konbowei in his presentation said the Gbarain-Ubie gas processing facility was one of the most valuable gas projects in Nigeria having cost multiples of billions of US Dollars to build.

He said the plant has capacity of processing about two billion standard cubic feet of gas daily.

According to him, the facility supplies gas to the Bonny terminal for export and is a big source of foreign exchange earnings for Nigeria, hence an important employer of labour.

The lawmaker said there were huge explosions from a crude oil pipeline on May 14, 2024 resulting in an inferno in the vicinity of the gas facility.

This, he said constituted a threat to safety of the facility, saying that the facility was a precious national economic asset.

He “observed that the explosions caused widespread panic among residents of the community where the explosion occurred.

“Concerned that this inferno resulted in the pumping of huge volumes of poisonous gaseous substances into the atmosphere resulting in massive pollution of the environment, with adverse impact on the health of the people within the vicinity.”

He expressed worry that the air in the vicinity has been heavily polluted with impurities, which can cause difficulty in breathing, damage to the lungs and high risk for asthma patients.

He also expressed concern that the cause of the explosions was unknown, creating an atmosphere of suspense and uncertainty.

Senator Diket Plang (Plateau Central) urged companies involved in oil and gas explorations to endeavour to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA ) before embarking on explorations, saying that inhaling of carbon dioxide was dangerous to health.

Other lawmakers, who supported the motion included Senators Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa West) and Senator Etang Williams (Cross River Central), who seconded the motion.

Senate in its further resolution called on the government to adopt measures for the protection of the environment from further degradation.

It also called for enhanced protection of other national economic assets for the purpose of preventing the recurrence of similar threat.

Senate also called on the government and the operator of the pipeline to provide medical assistance and relief materials to the people affected by the pollution and shock.

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