Senate probes Bayelsa explosion

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The Senate has constituted an ad hoc committee to investigate the recent explosion near the Gbarain-Ubie gas processing facility in Yenagoa, Bayelsa.

This followed the adoption of a motion at plenary on Wednesday on the need for urgent action on massive explosion close to Gbarain-Ubie gas processing facility in Yenagoa, Bayelsa by Sen. Benson Konbowei (PDP- Bayelsa).

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 dollars to build.

He said the plant had the capacity to process about two billion standard cubic feet of gas daily.

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“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,” he said.

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

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

“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 saidvthat the environment had 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.

Sen. Diket Plang (APC-Plateau) 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 (PDP-Bayelsa) and Etang Williams, (APC- Cross River), who seconded the motion.

The Senate in its further resolution called on government to adopt measures for the protection of the environment from degradation and also called on operators of the pipeline to provide medical assistance and relief materials to the people affected by the pollution. (NAN)

By Kingsley Okoye

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