Group Faults NPDC/Elcrest, FG On Opuama/Polobubo Oil Spill In Delta 

…Says it is appalling that after recording one death and several hospitalised, NPDC/Elcrest, FG still remains adamant 

…Read what the group is saying about it (an exclusive)

By Binebai Princewill 

A group operating under the aegis of Initiative For Rural Communities Development of  Niger Delta (IFRCDND) has faulted what they described as an enslavement and inimical attitude towards the people of Opuama and Polobubo communities in Egbema Kingdom, Warri North  Local Government Area of Delta State over a massive oil spillage operated by NPDC/Elcrest in OML 40.

The group made their position known via a detailed statement issued to newsmen in Warri yesterday, a copy of which was sent to The Liberator Newspapers Worldwide, signed by Tiemo.B.Pumokumo, Chairman Initiative For Rural Communities Development Niger Delta. 

Pumokumo had wondered on why the federal government of Nigeria, her agencies as well as the oil companies operating in the area are yet to take up their responsibilities by doing the needful, stressing that it is appalling to see that even after a life has been lost and several others hospitalised due to the toxic spill that has taken days, the Government and the said companies would still remain adamant. 

The statement reads in full below:

OIL SPILL IN OPUAMA/POLOBUBO COMMUNITIES IN WARRI NORTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT  AREA, EGBEMA KINGDOM DELTA STATE  AND THE INSENSITIVITY ON THE PART OF GOVERNMENT/NPDC AND OIL MULTINATIONALS TO RESPOND APPROPRIATELY AND SWIFTLY TO THE PLIGHT OF OUR PEOPLE 

In a situation that has left one man dead and many others hospitalized due to the effect of Oil spillage from poorly maintained oil drilling equipment and exploration facility in OML40

The Nigerian state can be said to be criminally liable for yet failing to regulate the continued pollution within the Nigerian territorial environment (irrespective of the actual participant). This is considered in the light of some international law principles and statutory provisions in Nigeria

The Federal Government has the responsibility to respond to oil spills in pursuant to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act), the Oil Pollution Act, and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contigency Plan (NCP).

Studies of biomarkers have uncovered irreparable harm to humans exposed to oil and gas from spills. These effects can be grouped into respiratory damage, liver damage, decreased immunity, increased cancer risk, reproductive damage and higher levels of some toxics (hydrocarbons and heavy metals).

Oil toxicity: Oil consists of many different toxic compounds. These toxic compounds can cause severe health problems like heart damage, stunted growth, immune system effects, and even death. Our understanding of oil toxicity has expanded by studying the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

People and Pollution: The Social Impacts Oil Spills Have at a Community Level. Oil spills can damage the environment and the wildlife and marine life that depend on it. They can also cause physical, mental, and financial stress to people as individuals.

Once an oil spill has been deemed “cleaned”, it’s not surprising that there are a number of long-term effects on the environment and nearby ecosystems. Crusty balls filled with soft, gooey oil known as “tarballs” continue to wash up onshore months or years later after a spill.

Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps are used to identify sensitive shoreline resources prior to an oil spill event in order to set priorities for protection and plan cleanup strategies. By planning spill response ahead of time, the impact on the environment can be minimized or prevented. Environmental sensitivity index maps are basically made up of information within the following three categories: shoreline type, biological and human-use resources,this I believe the oil companies and the government have failed to do the needful. “An oil spill represents an immediate fire hazard.

FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (FEPA) is located in Abuja, Nigeria and is part of the Government Industry. FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (FEPA) has  over 400  employees across all of its locations. There are 477 companies in the FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (FEPA) corporate family

It is strongly viewed that the discovery of oil in Nigeria since 1956 brought with it, grave environmental challenges. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimates that between 1976 and 2001 alone, there were an approximate of 6800 spills totalling 3,000,000 barrels of oil . Similarly, reports showed that there were 253 oil spills in 2006, 588 oil spills in 2007, and 419 oil spills in the first six months of 2008. Cumulatively, an estimated 9 to 13 million barrels (1.5 million tons) of oil has spilled into the Niger Delta over the past 53 years.

It is also a known fact that the people of the Niger Delta region, like most other parts of Nigeria, rely on agriculture for food and their livelihood. Interestingly, it has been reported that oil pipelines run across farmlands; and other oil infrastructure, such as well heads and flow stations are often close to agricultural land. It is therefore easy for a spill to destroy viable crops of Niger Delta farmers. A study found that oil spills in the Niger Delta region reduces the ascorbic content of vegetables by an estimate of 36% and the crude protein content of cassava by an estimate of 40%, thus resulting in a 24% increase in the prevalence of childhood malnutrition in the region.

A notable point in the debacle is that the continued oil and gas pollutions have been occasioned by oil multinationals operating in Nigeria despite existing regulations and purported government enforcement in regulating the oil and gas sector. This includes the Oil Pipelines Act, The Petroleum Act, The Environmental Impact Assessment Act (1990 LFN 2004), The Oil in Navigable Waters Act (1990),

Section 1 of the Nigerian Petroleum Act  vests the entire ownership and control of all petroleum in, under or upon all land or Nigerian territorial waters in the Nigerian government. Furthermore, principle 21 of the Stockholm Declaration mandates states to ensure that activities within their region do not damage the environment. This was further reiterated in principle 15 of the Rio Declaration which mandates states to ensure and guarantee due diligence and precaution against environmental damage within its territory.

Most importantly, section 20 of the Nigerian constitution (1999 as amended) mandates the Nigerian government to protect and improve the environment, while guaranteeing public safety. In addition to this, section 2 of the Nigerian Environmental Impact Assessment Act provides that the public or private sector of the economy shall not undertake or embark on or authorised projects or activities without first considering and investigating its impact on the environment. Even more, Section 5(e) of the Federal Environmental Protections Agency Act [FEPA]  projects a co-operation between the Nigerian government and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency in ensuring environmental protection and conservation of natural resources.

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NPDC and it’s partners rather neglected to properly maintain oil facilities, which in turn resulted to oil spills close to villages. These spills has“serious short and long-term health impacts, including skin infections, gastrointestinal and respiratory ailments, and increased risk of cancers, and neurological and reproductive problems” 

 There rests an obligation on governments to: – guard against threatening the health and environment of their citizens; and avoid policies and practices that might violate the integrity (and undermine the right to health and a healthy environment) of individuals. Nigerian government is guilty of conspiring with oil multinationals to destroy the environment and livelihood of the our people; take reasonable measures to prevent pollution and ecological degradation and to promote  sustainable development and use of natural resources.

The proven conducts of the Nigerian government, is in clear breach of the obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil the right to health and the right to a healthy environment under the African Charter. 

The Nigerian government has failed to regulate by:

1) failing to monitor the oil production activities of  multinational corporations operating in Our lands.

2) enforce domestic and international environmental standards, which require safety measures and prompt oil spill response to prevent further environmental pollution and ecological devastation.

3) and consult with indigenous communities before and after commencing oil operations

(4) failing to enforce existing environmental laws and regulations to protect the environment.

(5) violating the right to health and standard of living as well as the socio-economic rights of Niger Delta indigenes as stipulated under the African Charter

A breach of the right to health and the right to a healthy environment in Nigeria has invariably resulted to a subsequent breach of other rights, including the rights to an adequate standard of living and economic and social development.

The Nigerian Government Must:

(1) take all effective measures towards restoring the environment of Opuama, Polobubo and its neighboring communities in Egbema Kingdom in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State.

(2) take all necessary measures to prevent further environmental pollution. 

(3) take all measures to hold the perpetrators of the environmental damage accountable.

A failure to regulate the extensive pollution discussed, could be interpreted to be a full wilful permission of the pollution crime, despite having been statutorily Obligated to regulate,  This, under the strict liability purview could suffice for the actual pollution conduct and would only expectedly create a liability as a co-committer of the actual pollution offence or an accomplice-in-commission.

Tiemo.B.Pumokumo

Initiative For Rural Communities Development Niger Delta

Chairman

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