To Get Personalised contents and be able to add items to your favourites, please Sign In or Sign Up          
 

Tank farms threaten Lagos residents


Business Directory » Business
Lagos

Date: 21th March, 2013

Image: Tank Firm  

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) grants licenses to oil companies to build and operate petroleum products’ storage tank farms in Ijegun, less than two kilometers from the Naval Training School, in Satellite Town, Lagos, which houses the biggest military armoury in West Africa, in a deal, which experts say places the entire area, including Festac Town, its environs and the mass of residents on keg of gunpowder. In this piece, Correspondent, Adeola Yusuf reports that unless something is done fast, Lagos may witness another calamity akin to the Ikeja bomb blast that occurred 11 years ago on January 27, 2002, killing an estimated 1,000 people and rendering several others homeless.

An epithet written on the mass grave of no less 100 people who were burnt to death on May 15, 2008 appears boldly on a mausoleum at the junction of Ijegun, to welcome any visitor to the sleepy town in the outskirts of Lagos. This faded green-and-white painted plaque reads: “Here lies the body of victims of the Ijegun fire outbreak which occurred on Thursday, May 15, 2008. May your innocent lives, including children scampering for safety, perished in the pipeline fire outbreak, rest in perfect peace.”

Ijegun has arguably witnessed a high rate of pipeline fire/explosions in Nigeria. But the hapless town may be in for the mother of all disasters, unless something is done, and done quickly.

Fuel storage tank farms are springing up in this town, less than two kilometres from the Nigerian Navy Training School, Satellite Town in Lagos, which houses the biggest military armory in the entire West Africa sub-region.

Findings by Daily Independent revealed that the fuel storage facilities, built by Star, a downstream company have begun operation, while Deepwater, another downstream oil company has started construction of its tank farms at the site.

Seven other companies have allegedly been licensed by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), are expected to deploy construction engineers to site soon.

Statistics by Daily Independent shows that more than 2, 200 people have been killed by pipeline fire since 2000 in Nigeria, the world’s eighth largest oil exporter and Africa’s top producer.

 Sitting on keg of gun powder

Abdullahi Sobola, a PhD holder, and a chemical engineer who lectures at the Lagos State University told our correspondent that the tank farm and the armory, both of which are facilities for products storage have high chemical compositions.

“Although I do not know the grade of explosive at the armory, all we know is that explosives, just like petroleum products, have high combustion rate due to their high level of chemical compositions. It may be very wrong to site the two within close proximity,” he said.

This and other anomalies are usually detected and avoided through the globally accepted Environmental Impact Assessment (IEA) that should have been conducted before the licence is issued by the DPR, a regulatory agency.

The purpose of the assessment is, according to Sobola, to ensure that decision makers consider the environmental impacts when deciding whether to proceed with a project.

According to Sobola, “the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) defines an environmental impact assessment as ‘the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made.’

“EIAs are unique in that they do not require adherence to a predetermined environmental outcome, but rather they require decision makers to account for environmental values in their decisions and to justify those decisions in light of detailed environmental studies and public comments on the potential environmental impacts of the proposal,” he said.

Continuing, the chemical scientist said: “EIAs began to be used in the 1960s as part of a rational decision making process. It involved a technical evaluation that would lead to objective decision making. EIA was made legislation in the US in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 1969.

“There is growing dissent on the use of EIA as its influence on development decisions is limited and there is a view it is falling short of its full potential. There is a need for stronger foundation of EIA practice through training for practitioners, guidance on EIA practice and continuing research.”

Safety, security at risk

Commodore Richard Okeke (retired) also in a chat with Daily Independent lamented that the safety and security of people around the area and within a 40 kilometers-range are at great risk.

Okeke, who doubles as the Chairman, Security committee for Satellite Town Central Residents Association (STCRA), said while addressing newsmen at the Federal Civil Service Club, Satellite Town that five of the 20 Local Government Areas in Lagos, such as Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Apapa, Alimosho, Amuwo odofin, Oshodi Isolo local governments may be wiped out of the map of the state with this impending catastrophe.

“This has a very damaging high security implication,” he said.

Although Commander of the Nigerian Navy School, Ojo, Commodore S.A.G. Abbah could not be reached for comments, a top-ranking official who craved anonymity when Daily Independent visited the Naval Training School in Ojo, disclosed that the Naval authorities is “deeply concern about this great threat, and I can tell you that the Chief of Naval Staff has informed the Minister of Defence of this aberration.”

  Residents cry out

Already, elder statesmen, many of who retired from the federal civil service and now residents of the 44 government, company and private estates, and 77 closes around the area, last week, cried out to the federal and Lagos state government to swiftly avert the impending calamity.

The residents alleged shoddy deals in the issuance of license by DPR, wondering whether the statutory IEA was not conducted before the licenses to build tank farms were issued.

Rising under the auspices of the Satellite Town Central Residents Association (STCRA), the residents called on the DPR to immediately withdraw the licenses given for these tank farms.

President of the association, Felix Egbamuno told Daily Independent:”The global standard is that tank farm or any fuel storage facility should be cited 25 nautical miles away from the armament depot. But our case here is pity-evoking, tank farms are built less than two kilometers from the biggest armament in West Africa here at the Navy Training School, Ojo.”

Accompanied by the association’s vice President, Mazi Tony Ohakwe, Chairman Board of Truste (BOT), Rufus Ogunedojutimi, Publicity Secretary, Aron Ukodie and the Financial Secretary, Adeyinka Adewale, Egbamuno continued: “Residents of this area who are retired Permanent Secretaries, retired Managing Directors of government agencies and parastatals as well as other Nigerians are ala rmed by the installations of Petroleum Tank Farms in the residential area of Ijegun, which is contagious with Satellite Town. Nine Petroleum Tank Farms are said to be licensed for operation in the area and three of them are being built while one has been in operation.

“These are serious threats to life and property as one accidental fire outbreak can completely eliminate the community.

“We therefore use this medium to appeal to Lagos state and federal government to urgently review the licenses for these Tank Farms operation to avert dire consequences to our lives, property and environment,” he said.

 Royal support

The traditional ruler of Ijegun, Oba Nureini Akinremi, is obviously in support of efforts to ensure that the community no longer witnesses any fire disaster in spite of its proximity to fuel pipelines, the tank farms and the armory at the Navy Town.

While absolving his people of complicity in several case of pipeline vandalism leading to various incidents of explosions and fire in Ijeododo community, Akinremi told Daily Independent in his palace that he was not aware of any environmental Impact Assessment for the Tank farm.

Tales of deaths, pain, grief

For instance, about 100 people were killed and scores injured when fuel from a pipeline ruptured by a bulldozer caught fire and exploded on Thursday May 15, 2008 in Ijegun, Lagos, the Red Cross said.

Observers note that the country has experienced a catalogue of pipeline explosions with dire consequences.

Also, on October 18, 1998 a pipeline explosion occurred in the sleepy community of Jesse in Delta State, killing more than 1, 000 people and earning it the infamous number one spot for such disasters in the country.

In the Jesse tragedy, only a few of the victims were recognisable and their bodies released to their relations. The rest were given a mass burial.

The Abule Egba pipeline explosion in Lagos on December 26, 2006, follows in terms of severity and impact, as it claimed close to 500 lives, destroying a sawmill, several buildings and vehicles, being a densely populated area.

A year after, December 2007, several people were burnt to death while scooping fuel from a vandalised pipeline at Ojo creeks in Lagos.

Although the lagoon, which links the sea washed many victims of the Ojo inferno, the number of victims who were given mass burial over a period of one week was close to 250.

On 16 December 2010, Ijegun witnessed another pipeline explosion with about 10 people feared dead and 17 others declared missing. The explosion occurred in Idu, a few kilometres from Ijegun, where about 100 died in a previous oil fire.

Pipeline vandals ambushed and killed three NNPC engineers and technicians of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, deployed to effect repairs on the vandalised products pipeline in Arepo Village were on September 9, 2012.

On Saturday, January 11, 2013, at least 10 suspected vandals were, feared dead in another explosion that rocked the NNPC pipeline at Arepo village, Owode, Ogun State. Daily Independent gathered that the explosion followed a fire sparked off by some vandals who stormed the creeks, by boat to siphon fuel from the NNPC pipeline.

The fireball in the 2008 pipeline explosion engulfed homes and schools at Ijegun village in the Lagos district of Alimosho, and many of the dead, who included schoolchildren, were killed in the ensuing stampede as people fled in panic from the flames.

“About 100 people have so far been confirmed dead from the fire. We have so far rescued more than 20 people with injuries and taken them to hospital for treatment,” a Red Cross official at the scene told Reuters.

The disaster was the latest in a series of pipeline explosions caused by damage or theft which have killed more than 1,200 people since 2000 in Nigeria, the world’s eighth largest oil exporter and Africa’s top producer.

The pipeline rupture at Ijegun, a village about 50 km (30 miles) from the centre of the sprawling coastal city of Lagos, occurred during work to build a road. A bulldozer moving earth struck the pipeline buried beneath the surface.

As John Egbowon, a resident of the area explained, “I was returning home when I suddenly saw sparks of fire from where the grader (earthmover) was working. The fuel leaking from the broken pipe caught fire and exploded, sending people fleeing in panic.

“It was like hell was raining down on us, then everybody started running in different directions,” Egbowon said.

 Silence

The DPR, the agency saddled with the responsibility to grant license to build and operate tank farms has, however maintained stoic silence over the issue.

Spokesperson for the DPR, Belema Osibidu, a Deputy Director, Public Affairs of the agency did not take calls to her mobile phone last week, but promised to “get back to you,” in a terse reply to an earlier text message sent to her to get the agency’s response.

But a source at the Department who “does not have power to talk to Press,” told Daily Independent that investigation on the matter pointed to “powerful people” as responsible for citing the tank farms. He declined to mention names of the “powerful people.”

The DPR, he said, is now investigating to actually ascertain whether the tank farms owners have authentic license or not.

  Last line

The primary intention of sitting these tank farms in Ijegun is for business. But then, the lives of helpless Nigerian should not be placed above business considerations, considering the huge loss of lives and property that follow pipeline fire incidents. The government and members of the National Assembly must therefore show they attach any form of importance to the wellbeing of citizens by compelling the NNPC and the DPR to ensure the relocation of the tank farms in question. Unless this is done, residents and visitors to the five local governments may just be waiting for doomsday.

Article Credit: Daily Independent News

For more Nigerian news: http://news.logbaby.com

Website http://
 

Find Us On Facebook

Tags:     Tank farms threaten Lagos residents

RELATED