Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
Oil spill and environmental experts from Canada yesterday called on Ogoni residents who have no alternative to relocate from their affected oil spill locality to stop consuming sea food and contaminated water from the river.
The environmental activists made the call during awareness program on environmental Remediation, Clean-up Technologies and Safety Training organized by Nesdumo Worldwide Solutions Limited.
The program which attracted youths from Ogoni communities in the four local government areas, comprising Tai, Khana, Gokana and Eleme took place at First Eleme Millennium Hotel, Rivers State.
Mr. Lawrence Neufeld, an oil spill expert from Canada said the best way to avoid critical future health challenge is to cut off from the water source and stop consumption of sea food.
He said there is oil spill in any oil producing area including Canada, adding that there is need for emergency remedy even as the federal government has showed a great sign for implementation.
Neufeld said: “You must be trained to understand your environment, but some of the community members are at risk. Because even as survey has showed that the environments they are living in are polluted yet they still live there.
“The government of Nigeria should help them out; they are poor. So they continue searching for food in the river and drinking contaminated water. If they are healthy today the future of their children are at risk. They should stop eating sea food.”
One of the speakers, Dr. Babatunde Benard Bolaji who advocated for the needs to provide potable clean water and health facilities to the affected rural communities, said the training was to expose Ogoni youths on technicalities involved in the clean up process.
He also said the locals from the spill affected areas will be massively engaged in the process, while encouraging them to make good use of the opportunity for the sole purpose and not for money making.
Bolaji said: “It is a sensitization programme for the forth coming spill clean- up in Ogoni land. The programme is tailored towards sensitizing the youths and preparing their mind so that they can be involved technically and professionally when the process starts.
“When such a thing like this arise, individual interest always come to play, people will want to corner contractors or if they want to employ people they will bring any type of person for the sake of the money.
“This is a professional exercise and the training is scientific. It is time to remove politics and face the clean up squarely.”
On the health of those still drinking contaminated water, Bolaji said,” Benzene is a carcinogen that means it can cause cancer, if they are inhaling benzene or drinking the water. It has the capacity to cause all kinds of cancer.
“The carcinogens are mutagen. Being a mutagen, means it can interact with the genetic makeup of a person. So during that time it means it can change the genetic composition of a person.
“So if it removes the genetic material that is responsible for forming your arm, then it means you will be born without an arm. If it affects the one responsible for your nose, then it means you will be born without a nose.”