“Our lives are at stake!”

“Deadly black tide of oil contamination”: protests erupt throughout South Sudan

By Francis Michael Gwang 

“Spills from the oil wells owned by Petronas are endangering the lives of more than 50,000 residents of Tarjas,” states Lam Tongar, the minister of information for Northern Liech state. Tarjas is an oil-producing region in the state, which is located in South Sudan.

This threat to their lives stems from the oil’s having made its way into the residents’ main sources of water. Petronas is owned by the Malaysian government, and is one of the three largest multinationals – along with China National Petroleum and India’s ONGC Videsh – forming part of the consortia pumping oil in South Sudan.

Issued at the beginning of August, Tongar’s cry for help is being echoed throughout South Sudan. The existence of the oil spill and its endangering of residents have been confirmed by an official working for the country’s ministry of petroleum. He blamed the spill and contamination and the lack of clean-up and remedial actions in general on the oil-caused civil war raging in South Sudan – and on government’s failure to enforce such environmental laws as South Sudan’s Oil Act of 2012.

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