NESREA CLAMPS DOWN ON ETHANOL PLANT, TASKS FACILITIES ON ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE
On Monday, 17th April, 2023 at about 12.30 pm, the combined team of officials of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA and Officers of the Nigeria Police Force, Benue State Command Headquarters sealed off a facility belonging to Pure Bio-Tech Company Limited situated along Gboko Road, Makurdi, the Benue State Capital, for discharging untreated effluent into water bodies thereby endangering human lives and the environment, and also flouting extant environmental laws and standards.
The company, an ethanol production plant, which belongs to the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sector, uses cassava as its raw material. This production of Ethanol using cassava is a wet process that requires the installation of a functional Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) which would ensure that waste from these processes is well treated before being discharged into the environment. 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.
In March 2023 the Facility Consultant (NESREA Accredited) 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 the 16th April, 2023. The Report revealed that most of the parameters analyzed from the Effluent were above NESREA 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.
NESREA moved in to avoid further endangering of lives of residents who use water from the river for their basic household needs. 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 expedient and necessary to halt an action posing imminent danger to human life, animal the environment.
In addition to not having an ETP, the facility was also found to be operating without an Environmental Impact Statement, and 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.
Also, the Facility operates without relevant Environmental Permits contrary to the National Environmental (Permitting and Licensing System) Regulations 2009 S.I N0.29.
The facility therefore remains sealed while investigations continue. At the conclusion of investigations, the appropriate sanctions will be meted out on the company.
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.