By Ediri Ejoh
Fresh facts have emerged on an environmental pollution incident at Akoka area of Lagos State after a leakage occurred on the premises of a fuel station on August 13, 2017.
A document obtained by Sunday Vanguard exonerated Total filling station where the leakage took place, saying it met all requirements as well as restored normalcy to affected water system across all flows.
The document obtained from Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, LASEMA, dated July 15, 2018, noted that contamination of water due to petrol leakage from the station’s underground tank was cleared.
Some landlords in the area said the community was free from any form of contamination, praising the swift response of the Total filling station after the leak occurred.
One of the landlords, Rasak Odufuwa, said, “The said incident occurred last year in May and had our waters contaminated and dangerous to drink or make use of. However, the company was the first to alert our community on the development and immediately provided an alternative means of water supply by installing over 7, 000 liters of Geepee tanks that supplied water to us for three days.
“All these were done to ensure we are given the maximum compensation for the damages done.”
Another landlord explained that the situation became a blessing in disguise, saying, “For sure, we were affected by the leak from their underground tank, but the situation has landed us several bore-holes with cleaner water supporting government’s commissioned water system.
“Any accusation against the company is purely malicious and has no basis because the company has done all that was required by law to do and more for us. As such, we are grateful for their swift action to contain the incident and provide an additional water system for the community of Akoka.”
Meanwhile, the dealer of the station at Akoka branch, Aleem Maruf, has refuted the allegation of abandoning residents of Akoka after the leakage, saying it has by law done everything necessary to redress the situation for the community.
According to him, less than a month after the incident, the fuel flow was stopped, adding that the damage to the environment had also been halted.
There had been a report that residents of the community raised the alarm over the contamination of their land and water due to petrol leakage from the station’s underground tank.
The report quoted the residents as saying their businesses and health had been affected by the leak.
Maruf noted that the leakage occurred in August 2017.
He explained that immediately the leakage was discovered, government agencies were notified and precautionary measures taken to reduce the environmental impact, as water tanks were provided for the affected houses, while they were supplied clean water as palliatives.
According to the dealer, water pipes, hoses and faucets in the community were replaced while agreement was reached for medical checks to be carried out on residents of the affected houses.
Maruf said, “When the incident happened in August 2017, I immediately went to the Bariga Police Station to notify them and request their help to remove those selling fries by the roadside. It was one of my six underground tanks that leaked its content and we immediately started a stratification process. I also alerted officials of the LASEMA and the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency for a damage evaluation of the environment and Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR. Before the end of August, the flow had been stopped.
“LASEMA went round to assess the extent of the pollution by taking soil samples in the environment and it was seen that just seven houses were affected, including my station and a mechanic village.
“However, I was told to provide an alternative source of water for the affected houses while the remediation process was ongoing, which I did by providing 5,000-litre tanks for the affected houses and provided water for them three times a week.”
He added that by May 2018, all the affected areas were free from pollution.
A stratification certificate of conformity, dated September 29, 2017, which showed that the leakage had been fixed, was sighted by our correspondent.
Sunday Vanguard obtained copies of water analyses reports issued by Searchgate Laboratories Limited.
The reports, dated October 9, 2017, February 9, 2018 and June 11, 2018, showed that petrol had progressively evaporated from the water in the affected area.
In the minutes of a meeting that had officials of LASEPA and the affected residents in attendance, it was agreed that medical evaluation should be conducted by a government hospital for residents of affected houses.
New boreholes were also to be provided for residents.