Suspected Koko toxic waste dump: Itsekiri rights group petitions Environment Minister

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By Emma Amaize

ITSEKIRI Environmental   and Human Rights Group, IEHRG, in Delta State, has petitioned the Minister of Environment over alleged dumping of toxic and carcinogenic waste materials at Koko, Warri North Local Government Area of the state by Ebenco Global Link Limited, an oil waste management company.

The group in a statement by its coordinator, Mr. Tony Ede and two others alleged that the toxic materials were dumped in about four acres of excavated pit in Koko community nearly 30 years after a similar occurrence in the town.

Scientific  analysis

According to the statement, “to verify the toxicity of the contents of the sludge and slurry dumped in Koko, we took samples of storm water, soil, sludge and slurry on 11th January, 2017 for scientific analysis.

The certificate of analysis obtained from our consultant laboratory and the environmental report prepared by Vertical Options Global Services Limited revealed that the environment around the waste dump site is found to be highly toxic and carcinogenic,  as well as highly hazardous to health and environmentally unfriendly. Our petition is, therefore, a clarion call for an urgent intervention by the Federal Ministry of Environment to save the people of Koko from the expected devastating effects of the toxic and carcinogenic waste dumped in the town.”

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Unethical  investigation

Reacting to the purported analysis, a top official of Ebenco Global Link Limited,  Mr. Francis Akintunde, said: “A discharged monitoring/effluent report is usually carried out and the analysis is usually sent to the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR and Federal Ministry of Environment, FME, on quarterly basis.

“The management of the company is at a loss about this issue, the claim by the proponent of this unfortunate saga that the result of the sludge analysis indicates toxicity is at variance with the statutory regulations of the government regulatory agencies. The so-called analysis purportedly carried out was not in the presence of the relevant regulatory agencies, representatives of Ebenco Global Link Limited, Koko community and other stakeholders,” he said.

Akintunde pointed out that the chairman of the council, community leaders and stakeholders have visited the company to see things for themselves and were satisfied with its operations, adding: “The EIA of our new site is ongoing.”

How purported toxic materials were ferried

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But, the Itsekiri organization dismissed Ebenco’s declaration, saying:  “Investigations revealed that the crude oil waste and sludge are ferried into Koko from the facility of an oil company in Escravos by a private company in Warri with branches in Koko and Ikorodu in Lagos.

Looming danger

The group further asserted: “Unfortunately, the area around the dump site is essentially residential and has a primary school with numerous pupils and teachers. During the rains, surface and underground water which is the source of drinking water of the people will be gravely contaminated through seepage of toxic and carcinogenic substances into the aquifer. Consumption and or absorption of toxic and carcinogenic contaminants by plants and lower animals will ultimately lead to bio-accumulation in humans from the food chain in nature which will result in organs failure and death.

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