The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), on Sunday called on the Federal Government and Rivers Government to urgently put an end to illegal refineries causing the soot in Port-Harcourt.
A statement issued by Mr Fortune Obi, the National Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the association, said the soot was responsible for the thick black smoke that had covered the entire city.
According to the union, the soot could be the cause of some of the respiratory problems being experienced by residents of the city.
The union said that the health implications of the endemic black soot in Port Harcourt could be worse than Ebola if evaluated on the long term effect.
“This soot is not getting any serious attention because most of the people affected are still performing their daily tasks while they swim in this soot that has been confirmed by experts to be carcinogenic.
“The black soot settles on everything and finds its way into the corners of living rooms no matter how hard people try to stop it.
“Food items in Port Harcourt markets are as well not spared from getting mixed with this deadly soot that is ever present everywhere,” it said.
The union said PENGASSAN, in collaboration with other concerned bodies, had severally created awareness to call the attention of the government to act swiftly and put an end to whatever was the source of this killer soot.
“Majority believe that the source of this soot is due to incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons as well as asphalt processing, burning of barges used for oil bunkering and illegal artisanal refinery operations in some parts of the state.
“There is need for collaboration among all stakeholders to end this environmental hazard.
“We therefore call on the State and the Federal Government to put strategic action in place to finally address this black soot and put an end to whatever is the source.
“This is not the time to play politics with people’s lives.
“The Federal and State Governments, security agencies as well as all agencies in charge of environment and other agencies handling related issues, should toe a defined and safe path in handling illegal oil vessels.
“The government should constitute local councils into environmental councils to monitor their areas for any possible illegal refining of crude and such other dangerous acts that are inimical to human existence,” it said
The union also said that the criminals perpetrating the illegal acts should be arrested and prosecuted.