ICCON Sensitises Rivers Communities on Chemical Safety, Security

The Registrar/Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria (ICCON), Jwalshik Wilford, has stressed the importance of the safety and security of chemicals in Rivers State.

A federal government agency, Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria (ICCON), has embarked on a sensitisation programme on chemical safety and security for communities in Rivers State. Participants at the awareness programme held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday were selected from Ahoada West and Ahoada East Local Government Areas of the state.

During the training by the institute under the Federal Ministry of Health, participants were taught how to handle chemicals without endangering the environment and the people. The resource persons also explained that some people in the past have hazardously handled the chemicals which have caused serious negative effects on human being.

Speaking at the workshop, the Vice President of ICCON, Mr. Owoo Majek, said chemical accidents have over the years caused serious damage to human and the environment, stressing that preventing such contingency, raising the bar against accidents as well as terrorist attacks are a responsibility shared by governments and industry.

According to Majek, who represented the president of ICCON at the programme, “Chemical safety and security is fast becoming a priority area for the Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria activities aimed at enhancing implementation of some of our mandates through our Chemical Safety and Security Programme (CSSP).”

Majek explained that the essence of the programme was to make both industries management and employees aware of the importance of safety and security, and encourage their commitment to making the workplace safer and more secure.

It is also to “ensuring that the standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of any process, be it industrial, military, paramilitary, laboratory or official operational service, must be reviewed to identify the presence of any possible risk associated with CBRNE and the possible mitigation practices entrenched for safety.

The Registrar of ICCON Chemist Jwalshik Wilford stated this at the institute’s sensitisation in Ehuda, Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital on Tuesday. He said the institute would continue ‘’to advance this course’’ by creating more awareness on the issues, among other things, to enable things to get better. He added that poorly handled chemicals could cause environmental hazards..

“That the chemical professionals collaborate with governments, and national and international chemical organisations to raise awareness about chemical security and safety, and to mitigate the risks of chemical threats.”

He stated that ICCON had organised about seven training programmes on chemical safety and security with more than 600 participants in attendance who benefited from the programmes.

Majek, who noted that the primary aim of the programme was to ensure a safe and secure chemical environment, added that: “Achieving a safety and security culture in the chemical industry requires engagement with critical stakeholders. Stopping the misuse of chemicals cannot be done by rules and regulations alone.  It also requires a high degree of awareness and shared vision.  The Institute stands ready to advance partnerships to this end.”

Also speaking, Mr. Jwalshik Wilford, registrar and executive officer of ICCON, disclosed that the agency had taken similar awareness programme to other parts of the country.

One of the participants who spoke to THISDAY, Paul Ideozu, a native of Ahoada East, thanked ICCON for the impacted knowledge, noting the danger of misusing chemicals.

He said: “It’s a privilege of me being here today, and I have learned from the lectures delivered. They taught us on how to manage our waste chemicals. I must thank the institute for empowering this programme because is good for us to know all these things as humans so that we can live longer in our environment.”

At the event, which had as its theme “Chemical Safety and Security”, the President/Chairman of the Council, Prof. Fanna Inna Abdulrahman, who was represented by the institute’s Vice President, Majek Owoo, warned against making chemicals available to terrorists, saying it would be dangerous to society. She said: “In recent years, terrorists’ activities have been rampant in the country and these are not unconnected with the fact that people who are handling these chemicals have evil intentions in handling them. They are not supposed to have access to the chemicals and that is where the security aspect comes in. We are talking about safety, preventing these chemicals from affecting the public and as well securing the chemicals from people so that they will not be able to misuse them.

“We cannot separate ourselves from chemicals because on a daily basis we need them. But when it comes to abuse in cases where people use them to cause terrible hazards in the environment it is not acceptable.”

Some communities in Ahoada East and Ahoada West Local Government Areas of the state benefited from the programme.

At the event were Prof Iwekumo Agbozu, ICCON Council representative from Southsouth zone; Alhaji Haruna Salihu, representative of the Clerk of the Senate Committee on Health, National Assembly, and Prof. Kollo Babagana, Chairman, the Council Committee on Chemical Safety and Security. Others were Linus Aposu, Timothy Shamang and Rita Michael-Ojo, the Head of Membership and Training/ Corporate Services Department, ICCON.

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