Oil spills in the West African nation of Nigera are frequent and extremely damaging to the national economy., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Pollution: Senate may sanction oil firms
CHINEDUM EMEANA 03/10/2012 00:47:00
The Senate may soon prescribe heavy sanctions against oil companies whose exploration activities contribute to the severe pollution being experienced in the Niger Delta. This may be the major focus of the report of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, which has been visiting oil spill sites in the area since October 1, 2012. Chairman of the committee, Senator Bukola Saraki, said this yesterday when the lawmakers paid a courtesy visit to the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, yesterday.
The committee had visited several communities in Ogoni and other places in the state affected by oil spills. Saraki decried a situation where oil companies operating in the country caused pollution, destroying farmlands and threatening the well-being of communities without being sanctioned “and only told to do remediation.”
The senator noted that oil firms, instead of making genuine efforts to do remediation of oil spill affected environment, only deceived the people by tipping sands over the spill sites to cover up the top soil and create the impression that radiation had taken place. He said: “We went on today to look at sites at Ejama Ebubu (Ogoniland) where we found that there were still oil deep in the soil.
“This is after decades of so-called no more exploration or oil activities. What was being done was that soil and sand was just being tipped and no proper remediation was going on.
“I think it was really more of deception when people go there you will think that the place is being addressed, but no proper remediation are not being done.”
The Shell Petroleum Development Company was chased out by the communities of Ogoniland from drilling crude following accusations of environmental pollution and insensitivity by the firm.
“The Senate will call oil companies to account and take responsibilities for their actions. We want things to change, because it has taken a lot of patience on the part of the people affected,” he said. Saraki said that the amendment to National Oil Spill Detection and Response Act, NOSDRA, which had gone through the second reading in the Senate, when passed into law, would spell out the penalties on oil spill and remediation steps.
“When there is an oil spill, the hope of what to eat for the next day, week, month or even a year is completely obliterated.
“These communities rely heavily on subsistence fish farming and agriculture. “The impact is always systemic and expensive. The importance to be attached to dealing with oil spill apart from helping to conserve our resource and manage the environment lies more in protecting our people’s lives and their livelihood.”
Amaechi, while thanking the committee for the visit, said that Rivers communities affected by the oil pollution were no impressed by visiting from Abuja without any action from the Federal Government. The governor added that the Federal Government should de-silt the River Niger, saying the neglect of the Rivers for which Nigeria was named after, was the cause of the flooding being experienced in the country.