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Undersecretary denies oil pollution effects

The Undersecretary in the Ministry of Petroleum has denied reports of deaths due to environmental pollution caused by oil exploration.

In August last year, some residents of the former Upper Nile, who live near the oil fields in Palouch, complained of environmental pollution as a result of oil production.

They reported outbreaks of unidentified diseases which they said were not there before oil production started in the area.

These include giving birth to deformed babies and miscarriages by pregnant women.

“We found that most of the companies working on the Oil fields are not actually doing the right thing especially to our people,” revealed Josephine Napon, the Minister of Environment.

“Most of our people are dying, most of the children are born blind and most of them are dying just because of the pollution the oil companies have caused in those areas,” she stressed.

However, Mohamed Lino Benjamin said an investigation was launched and cases were referred abroad but the results did not indicate that the deaths and diseases were related to pollution.

“There are cases whereby actually we sent for investigation, it was a case of a deformed child, born in Palouch, and the people immediately accused the oil operators of the cause,” he said.

“So the child and the parents were sent to Nairobi, they made investigations on the child and the parents, the result came out negative.”

Mr Lino said such statements misinform investors willing to come to South Sudan.

“If you want to have any information please come to the ministry of petroleum before you deliver any statement that is not compiled,” he stressed.

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The two officials were speaking during the Africa Oil and Power conference held in Juba in the last two days.

It brought together oil companies from within Africa to share ideas on how to explore oil and power in South Sudan.

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