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NESREA clamps down on Benue ethanol plant, tasks facilities on environmental compliance

The combined team of officials of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and officers of the Nigeria Police Force on Monday, April 17, 2023, 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.

NESREA officials sealing off a facility belonging to Pure Bio-Tech Company Limited in Makurdi, Benue State

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 considered 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 company has, however, failed to install the ETP, a development NESREA describes as a violation 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 a NESREA-accredited Facility Consultant carried out an Environmental Compliance Monitoring (ECM), and the Report of the Effluent analysed by the consultant submitted to the NESREA Field Office in Makurdi on April 16, 2023, revealed that most of the parameters analysed from the effluent were above NESREA permissible level as provided under the National Environmental (Sanitation and Waste Control) Regulations 2009 S.I N0.28.

NESREA stated that 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.

The body then 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,” NESREA noted.

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.

The facility is also said to operate 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,” Amaka Ejiofor, the NESREA Assistant Director, Press, disclosed in a statement.

According to the Director General of NESREA, Prof Aliyu Jauro, compliance with laid down environmental laws is a must for companies operating in the country, adding that the agency is fully determined to ensure that non-compliant facilities are made to face the full wrath of the law.

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