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Explosion & Fire outburst at SONARA’s Production unit! Toxic Spills & Environmental Hazards feared!
Category :- Environment Author :- By Francis Ekongang Nzante with field reports from Agnes Nazie 
Posted on June 3, 2019, 11:27 am

According to a communiqué dated June 1, 2019 and signed by Jean Paul Sumo Njounou the General Manager of Cameroon’s National oil Refinery known in its French acronym as SONARA, there occurred an explosion followed by a fire incident on the night breaking Saturday June 1 at the Oil Refinery in Limbe.
Following this unfortunate incident, the President of the Republic through an official press statement has called on all concerned Government Authorities to make available every facility to make sure that the riverine populations stay safe.
From a purely environmental perspective, people from the West Coast Area should be extremely careful because lots of chemical substances would be in the air and surrounding water bodies following the explosion.
Those very close have been adviced by environmentalists to be observant especially  if they start experiencing Skin Irritation, difficulties in breathing among other similar symptoms. If such symptoms are observed, they should evacuate the area for a while.
Meantime rains will be welcome because if it rains  it could wash down any toxic petroleum chemicals back to the ground and into the water.
Nearby populations are called upon to avoid fish and other seafoods in the coming days, if they can. This is because fish and other seafoods  have a high capacity to accumulate heavy metals and similar chemicals. These precautionary measures have been put in place because Petroleum and related chemicals are not something to joke with and the risks could be high.
Economically, the impact would be enormous. It would take a long while for Production at SONARA to resume. If emergency measures are not put in place to massively import fuel then Cameroonians should expect fuel scarcity and price increase in the short term. It  will also cause a huge dent in the government’s budget, as it is a natural disaster and thus unplanned.

Despite this unfortunate incident that left considerable damage on  the company, a communiqué from the Government has indicated that every possible thing will be done to make sure that the supply of Petroleum all over the National territory continues normally. Authorities at SONARA have announced that the company will continue with its activities.
The communiqué signed by the General Manager, Jean-Paul Simo Njonou indicates that the incident happened On the night of Friday May 31 at 9:55pm, with an explosion at the Fractionin Unit in . A fire incident followed that touched some equipment of the Atmospheric Distillation Unit.
After being informed of the situation, Cameroon’s Minister in charge of Energy and Water Resources also paid an emergency visit early Saturday June 1, 2019 to assess the extent of the damage caused by the fire. According to the GM,  the cause of the incident was purely technical. “ for the moment, the incident seems to have originated from technical fault.  Ongoing investigation instituted by the Government shall permit the Government to know the exact causes”.
 At press time, the fire had been put out and the situation was already under control following a prompt reaction coordinated by SONARA and an intervention by the defense forces as well as the notable support of the fire fighting brigade from Douala. Despite considerable material loss at the Production Unit, there was no loss of human life.  
The Head of State has also given firm instructions that this unfortunate incident should in no way have a negative impact on the lives of the local population and that the ongoing extension and modernization project of SONARA should continue normally.
The impact of the explosion from the oil refining company caused damage to neighbouring structures, as it shattered down glasses and caused the houses to tremble from the explosion’s impact.
 

Tagged Keywords:  SONARA Explosion
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