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MPs decry oil pollution in Unity State

By Deng Ghai Deng

Members of Parliament in Unity State’s Transitional Legislative Assembly decry oil pollution in Unity State.

On Monday, lawmakers in Unity State Transitional Legislative Assembly have written a petition to the National government in Juba over what they describe as environmental pollution in the area.

Gatluak Gatwech, an MP Representing Koch County said that Sudd Petroleum Operation Company and SPOC disposed of chemical waste in water catchment areas near civilian settlements, putting their lives at risk.

“The oil company that operates in the Tharjieth Oil Field mismanaged chemical waste and poured that waste into a river called Wang-taar that leads to the host community, and the host community is using that river. There are lots of impacts on our community living within the area. We are worried about the lives of our communities because the situation as I am speaking now is very bad.”  Gatwech said.

Meanwhile, Peter Dak Riak said that there have been several cases of miscarriages and birth defects, including children born with no limbs, toes or hands. He says national authorities in Juba, particularly the national ministry of the environment should investigate the oil company and hold it liable for the pollution it causes in the area.

“This one really affects the community, for example, a woman can be pregnant for 8 to 9 months and at the end, it will appear that there is no pregnancy, some women give birth to dead children, and some children are born with no legs.  We urge them to investigate the case and those people who are responsible for this chemical disposal will be taken to justice.” Riak said

Pictures circulated online show chemical spills floating on top of a water pond in one of the locations said to be in Koch County. Quoting confidential environmental reports, the Associated Press reported in 2020 that the landscape around the oilfields in South Sudan contains hundreds of flooded waste pits and soil contaminated with toxic chemicals and heavy metals.

However, Joseph Africano, the Undersecretary in the National Ministry of Environment, said that the Ministry is aware of the complaints in Koch County which has prompted the ministry to carry out an investigation.

“Comprehensive environmental audit will be conducted and all the facts gathered. We cannot simply just start addressing it without having made an assessment. Based on the findings, the companies that are responsible will be held accountable, so in the next one or two weeks that one will be done.” Africano stressed.

Juba Monitor reached out to Sudd Petroleum Operating Company officials for comments, but their known phone numbers were unreachable.

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