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Nigeria declares pollution in southern city an emergency, closes plant


Port Harcout: Nigeria declared an air pollution emergency in a major southern city on Tuesday and closed an asphalt plant there after residents complained about the fumes from its furnaces, in a country plagued by corruption and poor governance.

Residents staged a protest in Port Harcourt, a harbor city in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, waving their hands in the air to show the soot stains from touching cars.

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“The Federal Ministry of Environment has declared the air pollution in Port Harcourt an emergency situation and has subsequently issued a notice to temporarily shut down an asphalt processing plant…belching out thick smoke,” the government said in a statement.

It did not name the firm, but a state government statement said it was from China.

“If I am having my bath, the color of the water, the stains on the sink are always black,” businessman Charles Adolor said. “Before we can use already-washed plates we have to rewash them again.”

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Adolor and his wife and son have been wearing face masks inside their apartment to protect themselves from the soot that covers everything from the windows to the bathroom.

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In the Niger Delta’s oil-producing swamps, residents complain about crude spills from broken or blown-up pipelines and acid rain from gas flaring, the burning of natural gas at oil wells.

Under British colonial rule, Port Harcourt was known as a “Garden City” due to its green parks, but a rapidly growing population has congested its pot-holed roads and cramped its residential quarters.

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