By Godfrey Bivbere & Providence Adeyinka
LAGOS—THE National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA, and the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, on Wednesday, disagreed over the content of a suspected toxic waste container abandoned at Berger Suya Bus stop, near Mile 2, Lagos.
While the NCS alleged that the content was carbide, meant for export, NESREA, on its part, said it was a chemical substance known as ‘Sodium Hydrosulphite UN1384 IMDG Class 4.2- P.G II’ that was imported into the country and cleared through a bonded terminal.
Vanguard reported that residents of Berger Suya area of Apapa woke up on Tuesday, November 3, to find a container load of suspected toxic substances. The report has since got the relevant authorities trying to unravel the contents of the middle size drums that filled the container.
NESREA, in a statement by its Director, NESREA Lagos Liaison Office, Dr. Stephen Otitologbon, said: “On November 4, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency NESREA, received information that a container suspected to be carrying toxic waste was abandoned at Berger Suya Bus stop, near Mile 2.
“Officers of the Agency were dispatched to the location. Discussions were also held with the Nigerian Customs Service and the Nigerian Ports Authority. Information on the abandoned container was also requested from the shipping line CMA-CGM.
“Investigations showed that the container was documented as carrying Sodium Hydrosulphite UN1384 IMDG Class 4.2- P.G. II which was manufactured in June and has June 2021 as the expiry date.
“The container was loaded on a truck with the head and number plates removed. The consignment of 432 drums, weighing 23.155 tonnes was cleared from a bonded terminal, Joatlim Bonded Terminal, where NESREA does not conduct a routine inspection.
“Further investigation showed that the container with Sodium Hydrosulphite fell off from the truck when the truck bumped into a pothole flooded with water, as there was a downpour on the day.
“The container has been moved to the facility of the consignee and NESREA has locked it up to prevent tampering, pending the conclusion of investigations.
“The Agency will also ensure that the consignee disposes of the chemical in an environmentally sound manner if found to be a waste.
“The consignee did not have NESREA import clearance although he presented the NAFDAC document.
“He was informed that failure to procure Environmental Import Clearance was a violation of statutory national environmental regulations.
“NESREA is enforcing the National Environmental (Hazardous Chemical and Pesticides) Regulations, 2014, which provides the procedure for importation of hazardous chemicals into the country. The Agency will not allow Nigeria to be used as a dumping ground for any deleterious substance and is working with other sister agencies to get to the root of the incident.”