The Federal Government has ordered the immediate shutdown of Junior Secondary School (JSS) Gui in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) over hazardous emission containing sulphur dioxide in the school premises.
Registrar of Environmental Health Council of Nigeria (EHCON) Dr Yakubu Baba said the closure is on the orders of Minister of Environment, Barr Muhammad Abdullahi.
The one-week shut down of the school is to enable the clean-up and decontamination of the school vicinity as a result of toxic emissions of battered solar batteries noticed on Thursday March 9, 2023, while the school was in session……Continue Reading
The emissions came from batteries used to power 50 solar panels installed in the school given the absence of electricity in the community.
The EHCON Registrar said the incident was reported by a good Samaritan, saying that the pollution affected the soil and part of the grasses within the school premises.
“One of the critical theoretics during such incidence is the emission of sulphur dioxide and if the situation is bad, you will see lead because there’s some lead content in the battery”, he said.
Baba noted that the batteries were kept indoors in a confined space, adding that the rise in temperature weakened the batteries, which led to the emission.
He hinted that the temperature exceeded the normal limit for the survival of batteries, which resulted to the release of some pollutants into the soil, air and the environment.
Baba said that EHCON would collaborate with other stakeholders and an accredited battery recycler to be part of the intervention team, adding that there are procedures that must be followed before dismantling such batteries.
The registrar pointed out that EHCON would engage the department of pollution control in the Federal Ministry of Environment and National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) to remedy the situation.
“Before now and Friday, we will cleanup the contamination. We will find out who the contractor is and look for a competent person that will do the replacement of the battery,” he said.
He disclosed that after the cleanup, the council would issue pre-pratic to enable the students return back to school after certifying that the environment is safe and conducive for learning.
The registrar maintained that the contractor should be held liable for damages, lamenting that he failed to install the project in an area with cross ventilation.
He noted that the batteries were kept very close to the ground level, which subjected it to humidity and eventual emission.
The registrar stated that the Climate Change department, hazardous control unit in the ministry and NESREA have complete guidelines on the installation of solar panel.
On impact of the emission on human health and the environment, he said: “Based on the content of the gaseous substance emitted like sulphur dioxide, it remains in the environment for more than 48 days. If there is contamination in the soil or air, it means that there is a tendency that the sulphur will be active for 48 days.”
He listed the consequences of the emission as skin irritation and upper respiratory tract infection, saying that direct contact with the soil especially in children could cause lead poisoning…….CONTINUE READING
Baba assured that the council would everything within the ambit of the law to secure the soil, air and the environment from contamination.
At least, 300 students and teachers in the school are at risk of contracting lung infection and brain damage over the battered solar batteries if unchecked.