The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) has said the current high levels of dust in the Tilenga oil project area are a result of strong winds that have been worsened by a prolonged dry spell within Buliisa District and surrounding areas.
While reacting to claims of population as a result of the Tilenga oil project activities in Buliisa District, PAU said in a statement that the high levels of dust were not only affecting the Tilenga Project Industrial Site area but had spread to a wider landscape within Buliisa District.
PAU noted that reports had indicated that community members from five villages neighbouring the oil Central Processing Facility in Buliisa District had petitioned the Ministry of Health with regard to alleged air pollution that had been suspected to be generated by the ongoing construction works for the Tilenga project.
However, PAU said that while it empathises with the impacted communities, it was not true that there was pollution resulting from construction work within the site area.
PAU also stated that, while construction was underway in Buliisa District at the Tilenga Project Industrial Area, which will house the Central Processing Facility, Construction Support Base, Construction Camps, and Drilling Support Base, it was not polluting the environment as had been claimed.
Construction on the Tilenga Project Industrial Area began in May 2021 as part of the early stages of putting in place the enabling infrastructure for the Tilenga project.
PAU also noted that all Tilenga project activities, like other oil and gas activities in other parts of the Albertine Graben, were being undertaken with due consideration to the environment and host communities, noting that to deal with this challenge, the frequency of water spraying would be increased to suppress the dust generated as well as scale down site activities that generate high dust levels and limit vehicle movements within and outside the operation areas.
“The situation being witnessed is largely temporary and is worsened by natural factors,” PAU said, noting that the mitigation measures are being continuously implemented to reduce the dust emissions, and it is also expected that the situation will normalise once the dry spell and strong winds ease.