The National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has said that it detected harzadous materials on 15 vessels that visited Nigerian ports.
NESREA Director-General, Prof. Aliyu Jauro, said in Abuja on Sunday that the vessels were laden with chemicals and electronics harmful to the environment.
He said all 15 vessels were asked to return to their countries of origin with the hazardous cargoes.
He said that NESREA is also targeting about 300 tones of e-wastes collection across the country.
He cautioned that government would not allow any importer to turn Nigeria into a dumping ground for hazardous materials.
“It is allowed to import electronics into Nigeria but such electronics must be functional and safe. Nigeria is not a dumping ground where any waste can be allowed in. Most of the items arriving in Nigeria are not good and don’t function well, so only those that are functional and are safe are allowed to be discharged.
“People are able to bring hazardous items into Nigeria because the country’s borders are porous. As an agency, we test imported equipment to ensure that they are working perfectly and they are safe for the ecosystem,’’ he said.
Jauro said particularly disturbing was the importation of used refrigerants and chemicals used in refrigeration that should not be allowed into any society because of their risk levels.
He said that some of the chemicals were found to react and deplete the ozone layer, the protective layer that shields the earth from radiation emitted by the sun.
“The use of chlorofluorocarbons in refrigerants and some other chemicals used as fire extinguishers are responsible for global warming. Also, some pesticides used in agriculture deplete the ozone layer and have a lot of negative effects on humans and on the ecosystem,” he said.
He said that e-waste activities is one of challenges facing the agency, adding that the NESREA is collaborating with relevant organisations to ensure that its activities are managed effectively.
According to him, “we are targeting the collection of about 300 tones of these e-wastes, already we have machines, including force and formal recyclers.
“But most of those doing the business are informal recyclers, like scavengers, who collect the waste, and take them to collection centres for disposal of such wastes.
“The collectors select the useful component for recycling and take the rest into dump sites.
“The agency trained those collectors so that they will be knowledgeable on the best way to collect the items and to ensure that they are upgraded in the system,” he said.
Jauro said that the NESREA had collaborated with some relevant organisations to ensure effective recycling of wastes across the country.
He mentioned the organisations as Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), and the German Agency for International Corporation (GIZ), among others.
He said that the NESREA had introduced a strategy known as the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to ensure the effectiveness in processing the recycling of the wastes.
He explained that the EPR is an environmental protection strategy that makes the manufacturer of a product responsible for the entire life cycle of the protect, especially for the take back, recycle and final disposal of the product.
The director-general said that the programme would help in achieving the recycle economy and reduce indiscriminate dumping of wastes in the country.
“The essence of the project is to ensure that the e-waste is collected in a friendly manner, and the recycling done in the best way to help protect the environment as well as keeping it healthy.
“Although, currently, we don’t have enough of the recycling facilities, but the few we have is doing a lot, so what they do is to dismantle those wastes that cannot be recycled.