In response to the Federal Government’s environmental regulatory compliance, officials of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) have sealed an ethanol company based in Benue State for lack of environmental compliance as stipulated by law. According to a statement issued by Amaka Okafor, Assistant Director of Press and Public Relationships of NESREA, a combined team of officials and officers of the Nigeria Police Force, Benue State Command executed the operation on April 17, 2023.
Amaka Okafor, said that the facility belonged to Pure Bio-Tech Company Limited, which was situated along Gboko Road, Makurdi, the capital of Benue State. The company was found guilty of poor environmental breaches for discharging untreated effluent into water bodies, thereby endangering human lives and the environment. They were also flouting extant environmental laws and standards. The assistant director explained that the company, which specializes in ethanol production, belongs to the chemical and pharmaceutical sector and uses cassava as its raw material.
The facility had no effluent treatment plant, a violation of the law.
She revealed that this production of ethanol using cassava is a wet process that requires the installation of a functional Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP). The plant would ensure that waste from these processes is well-treated before being discharged into the environment. However, the company had made provisions for none at the facility. “The non-availability of the ETP is in clear violations of the provisions of the National Environmental (Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Soap and Detergent Manufacturing Industries) Regulations 2009 S.I No.36 and National Environmental (Sanitation and Waste Control) Regulations 2009 S.I No.28,” Amaka said.
NESREA’s statement further revealed that in March 2023, the NESREA-accredited facility consultant carried out an Environmental Compliance Monitoring (ECM), and the Report of the Effluent analyzed by the consultant was submitted to the NESREA Field Office Makurdi on April 16, 2023. Most of the parameters analyzed from the effluent were above NESREA’s permissible level as provided under the National Environmental (Sanitation and Waste Control) Regulations 2009 S.I N0.28. The facility had earlier been issued notices of compliance concerns to halt production until a functional ETP is fully installed, but it failed to comply.
Agency seals the facility to avoid endangering lives.
To avoid further endangering of lives of residents who use water from the river for their basic household needs, NESREA moved in and sealed the facility. This is in conformity with the provisions of the NESREA Act 2007 (as Amended), which allows the agency to carry out such enforcement activity in situations where it becomes advantageous and necessary to halt an action posing imminent danger to human life, animals and the environment. In addition to not having an ETP, the facility also operated without an Environmental Impact Statement.
Thus, the company did not complete the process of conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before commencement of its operation which contravenes the EIA Act CAP. E12 of LFN, 2004. More so, the facility operated without relevant Environmental Permits contrary to the National Environmental (Permitting and Licensing System) Regulations 2009 S.I N0.29. Because of this, the premises remain sealed while investigations continue. At the conclusion of the investigations, the appropriate sanctions will be meted out on the company, says the statement.
Effluent-disturbed environment is not uncommon in Nigeria.
The statement concludes, “The Director General of NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro reminds facilities that compliance with laid-down environmental laws is a must for any company operating in the country, as the agency is fully determined to ensure that non-compliant facilities are made to face the full wrath of the law.” This kind of environmental pollution from effluent is not uncommon in Nigeria. Several communities and associations (especially fishery associations) have taken to the media to air their disapproval for the degradation caused by effluent to their livelihoods.