LPRC’s ‘Negligence’ Leads to Oil Spillage over Mesurado River

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Residents of Monrovia converged at the river to collect the spilled fuel early Monday morning

Blessing in disguise?

Residents of Monrovia and its environs early Monday morning woke up to an unusual phenomenon regarding fuel (diesel) spillage over the Mesurado river, which many experts fear has the potential of an environmental hazard, especially to marine species and residents who live along the banks of the river.

Scores of residents of Monrovia began trooping to the river when news the broke out, with the hope of collecting fuel for their economic benefits, in spite of concerns for their safety.

The residents, many of whom came from the slum communities of Vai Town and Clara Town, converged near the bank of the river in huge crowds with gallons and jerry-cans in their bid to hunt for spilled fuel oil on the bank of the Mesurado River.

Dozens of women, children, and elderly men were also seen using canoes to fetch the spilled fuel floating over the river, while some jumped into the water to collect theirs.  The residents were seen transporting gallons of fuel from the scene, with some voicing their happiness over the situation to newsmen in Monrovia, hoping that they will generate funds that will take them through the Independence Day celebration.

According to them, the spillage came at a time when they barely have money to purchase food and other essential goods for the upkeep of their homes.

Finder’s keepers: Two young people pouring their fetched fuel in containers

LPRC explains

The spillage, according to sources, came as negligence on the part of technicians and a damaged pipeline that supplies fuel from vessels to the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) storage tankers on Bushrod Island.

However, the management of LPRC has clarified that Monday’s spillage of fuel over the Mesurado River occurred while a vessel was loading fuel to one of the storage facilities, contrary to reports that one of its storage facilities got damaged.

Making the clarification on ELBC later on Monday, July 20, LPRC Managing Director, Marie Urey Coleman said about three thousand (3,000) gallons spilled over during the loading, adding that all active storage facilities are intact and safe.

“During the early hours of this morning we had a vessel that was discharging products for our importers and we had a minor spillage, with just under three thousand gallons of diesel that we had spilled over during the vessel discharge. We want to assure you that the situation has been placed under control,” Madam Coleman said.

LPRC’s Public Relations Manager, William Morris, added that the incident took place while technicians were loading one of the old tanks at the LPRC PST facility. Williams, like his boss, refuted the assertions of damage to the pipeline and collusion at the entity.

He said this is not the first time that the facility has experienced such an incident. “Similar spillage happened about two or three occasions during the past regime. This is not a strange thing. It happens all over the world,” Morris told this reporter.

However, he said that rehabilitation works are currently ongoing at the Product Storage Terminal (PST) to ensure that the facility is up-to-date.

“Some of the pipes were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s. Some are more than fifty years old. It is no secret that some are corroded and need repairs and this is exactly what we are doing,” Williams explained.

To help mitigate potential hazards that might accompany the spillage, The LPRC spokesman added that major stakeholders were immediately contacted to address the situation which includes a team of investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Williams also said an assessment into the conditions of pipelines in 2014 was conducted by British Oil engineers ‘Mother Wells’, which recommended immediate rehabilitation.

The LPRC Managing Director at the time, T. Nelson Williams, Jr., immediately recommended to the Board of Directors on the findings of the rehabilitation, and Mother Wells was contracted to begin works on the oil pipeline which continued until the dismissal of Mr. Nelson and the subsequent emergence of the EBOLA epidemic that brought the work to a standstill.

But the contract with Mother Wells was terminated when Nelson Williams’ term ended and Former Lofa county Senator, Sumo Kupee, was ushered in. The contract with the British company reportedly ended due to the high sum of money the company was demanding.

Upon revision of the contract, the Sumo Kupee’s leadership cancelled the Mother Wells contract and awarded it to Luther, which continued until the coming of the George Weah Administration. Morris said that the rehabilitation at the facility is now about 80% complete.

“The facility is already nearing completion with additional storage tankers erected during the administration of immediate past Managing Director Nyemade Pearson,” he noted.

Environmental impact

However, there are fears over potential environmental hazards, especially to marine species and residents who live along the banks of the river.

When contacted, Acting EPA Executive Director, Randall Dobayou, said: “Preliminary findings suggest that the source of the leakage is from LPRC. EPA is leading a full-scale investigation considering all perimeter of concern.”

Authorities of the EPA said they established that on Sunday, July 19, 2020, the management of LPRC carried out normal operation of transferring petroleum products from a vessel to storage tank 402. While in the process, tank 402 began to overflow with diesel.

The operation was conducted at night with poor visibility and a manual system. It was also established that the valve, which closes the tank, was opened, thereby allowing oil to flow from the tank into the river. The situation resulted in massive water pollution spanning from LPRC facility to Vamuco in Vai Town and beyond.

The agency is leading a full-scale assessment considering all parameters of concern. The assessment team includes the EPA, Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), and LPRC.

“We are scaling up efforts to get the findings ready as soon as possible,” EPA Acting Executive Director Dobayou said in a statement released last evening.

He disclosed that an environmental and social impact assessment is being done to determine the remediation and restoration action that needs to be taken in favor of the environment.

Dobayou disclosed that the Ministry of Information will officially communicate findings from the investigation since it is a joint assessment involving three government agencies.

David Yates Contributes to this story.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Will the Minister of Justice launch an investigation into the cause of LPRC’s oil spill???? It’s obvious that these clowns at LPRC don’t know what the hell they’re doing, but their negligence is killing our fishing industry!!! It’s time to prosecute these clowns for their negligence!

  2. [He said this is not the first time that the facility has experienced such an incident. “Similar spillage happened about two or three occasions during the past regime. This is not a strange thing. It happens all over the world,” Morris told this reporter.]

    When will CDCians learn to assume full responsibility instead of always referring to the past administration?
    Yes, you told us that the past administration was corrupt, incapable, etc. and so you battled it to bring us FIXES. Bring us the FIXES man and stop comparing yourselves with them all the time.
    They are NO longer there, assume your responsibility, my people! FIX things and stop baby cry!

  3. Martin Scott

    Wow!! Very good questions Martin:

    My worst fear is a hypothetical scenario where some psychotic individuals could use matches to set the gas ablaze. Can you imagine what would happen then?

    Do you remember the oil spill of EXXON Valdez in America during the early years of the Obama Administration? Now, this episode does not come close to the intensity and magnitude of that disaster, but it does remind one of what such an occurrence can do to the ecology and species of an environment if it is not timely taken care of.

    So, is the Weah’s government ready to address this challenge? Absolutely not and the answer will be the all-too-familiar one. It is, “The resources are not there because the government is facing budgetary constraints!”

    What the authorities are contemplating at this moment, is for some foreign governments to come in their behest as usual. Thus we will again see the classic case of the slave master’s mentality at play. In addressing the paralysis of this flawed thinking, Marcus Garvey once said in one of his famous speeches to Blacks in the diaspora, “A leader who teaches his people to depend on others, that leader is capable of enslaving them.”

    This cabal, which masquerades itself as a government, will instantaneously locate money when it comes to the grandiose pursuits of quenching the insatiable, materialistic appetite of its members, but when it comes to the dire challenges that face the nation, it always reneges on its promises.

  4. Petarus Dolo

    What an excellent point Petarus?

    Yes, you are right. A convergent of public opinions exists the Weah’s government is always extremely poised to shift its blames on the past administrations. If a question was raised now about which government in the history of Liberia demonstrated maximum tolerance, when it came to the number of frequent demonstrations, which were staged during the length of its rule, the answer would almost certainly be the Ellen’s administration. I do not arrive at this conclusion because I was a blind Unity Party (UP) follower. Neither do I say this because the UP government was impeccable. I say this as a fact.

    Weah, the standard bearer of the CDC, planned, strategized, and staged many demonstrations 24/7 alleging that the past administration was corrupt, inept, and incapable of running the country and uniting the nation.
    There even came a time when the National Security Agency (NSA) of Liberia revealed it had intercepted a conversation between Weah and his European manager in which Weah was recorded talking about a plan to overthrow Ellen.

    Up till now many observers of the Ellen’s era still wonder how did she escape death because the modus operandi (tactics) used by the CDC to incite the demonstrators were very deadly. And if anyone is to make an attempt today to deploy similar tactics, in making a political statement to the Weah’s government, he/she will either be murdered, or according to Weah himself, “…that person will not live in peace as long as he is the president of Liberia.”

    And so the Ellen’s dispensation is over now, and Weah has taken over the rein of state. Why, can’t he deliver on his promises of overhauling the government, reducing corruption and poverty, and uniting the people? What has all of a sudden caused his somnambulism (sleeping disorder?) What has all of a sudden caused his early onset of dementia that he can hardly recall anymore when one government succeeds another, the responsibilities of nation building falls on the head of the succeeding government and not on the preceding one?
    I wish he wakes up soon.

  5. American country musician, Willie Nelson, once said, “You’ll never get ahead by blaming your problems on other people.”

    This is a national emergency! This is the time for all hands on deck. Stop wasting valuable time blaming a national crisis, this huge environmental disaster, on others. Blaming others, without implementing an emergency action plan to contain the oil spill at this time, will not solve the environmental mess.

    The past administration does not exist. It is now the responsibility of the current administration to take immediate corrective actions to correct this oil spill. If not, it is going to affect the environment as well as the daily lives of many Liberians who depend on the Mesurado River for their living.

    What is the function of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when it is unable to handle and coordinate the cleanup of oil (or other dangerous chemical) spillage into the waterways of Liberia? What contingency plans do they have in place to remedy these types of environmental problems when they do occur? Will these culprits or different entities be held responsible for the oil spillage?

    How much will it cost the Liberian taxpayers if the government were to clean up the oil spillage from the river? These are pertinent issues the people of Liberia would like to know instead of wasting valuable time and energy blaming the past administration. Valuable time, energy and strategizing should be spent on how to contain the oil before more damage is done to the environment and people lives.

    It is very dangerous and unhealthy to see poor residents diving into oily river to scoop oil residues to be sold on the market. The oil is contaminated. It poses health hazards to these poor people who are desperately in need of jobs, food, and some government assistance to survive: most especially during this Covid-19 pandemic.

    As Willie Nelson said, “You’ll never get ahead by blaming your problems on other people.” This current government will never get ahead by blaming its mounting problems on past governments.” This oil spill will not go away through osmosis. Emergency Action Plan is needed now! These poor Liberians lives are in imminent danger!

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