BY YEMIE ADEOYE
PIPELINE and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, has begun spill containment and environmental remediation measures at the Isheri area of Lagos, where a huge volume of spilled premium motor spirit (petrol) has polluted underground water.
The company, which is the marketing arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, said the measures were part of its ongoing detailed investigations into the petrol seepage at the Diamond Estate and its environs.

This is coming just as the residents of the Diamond Estate, Isheri, on the outskirts of Lagos, called on government both at the state and federal levels to come to their aid and ensure their safety. Some of them who spoke with our correspondent said that they had resorted to cooking and bathing with expensive water from the commercial water tankers or sometimes with the help of pure water, even as they continued to live in fear of possible fire explosion as a result of the petrol leakages which has taken over their estate and environs, thereby affecting boreholes, wells and every other source of water from the ground.

Spokesman of the PPMC, Mr. Raphael Ugwu, said his company has taken the challenge of remediation as a precautionary measure to protect the environment even as it has not accepted culpability for the spill which polluted the underground water and caused fire incident.

Apart from physically checking the integrity of its pipeline to rule out any leakages, he said, the company has also started the process of mopping up the spilled petrol from the wetland.

During a visit to the area, Vanguard saw the technical team of PPMC recovering petrol from a separator pond sunk in the lowest part of the vicinity to enable the spilled fuel to gather with the aid of natural water surge.

One of the environment experts attached to the team, said dispersants would be applied to aid rapid evaporation of the remaining fuel at the end of the recovery exercise. He gave the assurance that the environment would be restored to its natural status very soon.

The spill is said to have also caused one of the biggest inland water pollutions associated with petroleum products in the country, even as cause of the pollution has remained a mystery.

Since the environmental crisis broke in the area, PPMC has mounted keen surveillance on pressure and tamper intelligence
tools attached to its distribution facilities in that axis, Mr. Ugwu said, adding that no link has so far associated the seepages to its pipeline, which passes through the area to Mosimi.

He explained that after remotely controlled surveillance intelligence tools failed to indicate any leakages on the line, the company deployed the costly, rigorous and most reliable physical inspection of the pipeline to identify and plug possible leakages that might be responsible for the pollution.

Further checks also showed that the company has covered over three kilometers of pipeline excavation as it tries to exonerate itself of culpability in the spill.

Mr. Ugwu said that the physical inspection has continued without any observed integrity failure along the three kilometres excavated, thereby raising suspicions that the seepage might be from other sources.

He said the area is notorious for incidents of reckless pipeline vandalism and stealing of petroleum products, arguing that the seepage might be from spills of the past that might have accumulated underground.

Mr. Ugwu insisted that the NNPC/PPMC is determined to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the underground water pollution, adding that despite the difficult process of physical examination of the pipeline, the company would not stop until it has established beyond doubts that the seepage is not from its facilities.

According to him, “it is a work to finish assignment and we are taking this challenge upon ourselves as responsible operators in the industry to safeguard lives, property and environment.”

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