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Sudanese official sounds warning bell about environmental situation

February 11, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese minister of environment and forestry, Hassan Abdel-Gadir Hilal, said that the suspected Israeli airstrike on a military complex near the capital last year left behind serious environmental threats due to the explosion of small particles that spread in the air.

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Sudanese minister of Environment and Forestry Hassan Abdel-Gadir Hilal (SUNA)

In a parliamentary hearing before the Health and Environment committee, Hilal warned that this incident has a direct effect on the human respiratory system.

He added that release of lead and carbon into the air in the aftermath of the explosion also poses a threat to the health of citizens.

Hilal went on to address the general environmental situation in the country and mentioned aging dumping grounds in the cities of Hasahisa and Kosti which are located South of Khartoum.

These dumps, he said, contain chemicals that are washed away into the Nile river during the annual rainy season.

The minister attributed the surge in diseases in Sudan to environmental pollution.

He revealed that large areas of the White Nile and Blue Nile states are contaminated because of the sugar industry. He said that people are circumventing a directive on closing channels that flow into the Nile carrying polluted items.

Hilal complained that an employee with the state of Khartoum has blocked the processing of a grant from Japan to provide waste incinerators used by hospitals on the ground that the state has a contract with external vendors to collect the medical waste and destroy it in the desert.

The minister called for amending the constitution in order to grant his ministry more powers.

He also warned about the food sold on Sudan’s streets, saying it contains lead.

Lawmakers concurred with Hilal’s assessment describing the environmental situation as appalling with some noting a growing trend in cancer cases which they blamed on pollution.

(ST)