Friday, October 14, 2005

Environment: Mysterious cloud hits Lagos

Nigeria: A dense cloud of fumes covered large areas of on Wednesday, causing many residents to complain of eye irritation, breathing difficulties and stomach complaints.

The Governor of Lagos State ordered an immediate closure of all public and private schools, and appealed to companies and institutions to allow workers with respiratory infections go home immediately.

A spokesperson for the State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), initially claimed the cloud was caused by a petroleum pipeline rupture. Using a phrase that I always find rather worrying, he said there was no cause for fear. However, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Gaslink Nigeria Limited, denied that their facilities leaked. Others claim the fumes were caused after some people unknowingly set fire to toxic wastes at refuse dump sites.

Later in the day, the state Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, said heavy air pollution occasioned by emission of dangerous chemicals from various sources including vehicles and industries that were responsible for the heavy smoke.