. As Ijaw Youths Urge Probe Of Disaster
An environmentalist, Mr Furoebi Akene, have attributed the dead fishes littering the Niger Delta coastline to the discharge of toxic chemicals from Shell’s operations at Forcados oil export terminal.
Akene who spoke in Yenagoa in reaction to NOSDRA’s position that it found no oil spills linking the massive death of fishes floating near the Atlantic coastline in Delta,Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom.
He said that while he agrees that the dead fishes were not caused by oil leakage as found out by NOSDRA, the disclosure was capable of misleading conclusions as the investigation results were being awaited by stakeholders.
Akene, Chairman, Board of trustees of the Centre for Environmental Preservation and Development (CEPAD) alleged that Shell Petroleum Development Company discharged toxic materials in the Atlantic off Delta coastline at Ogulagha.
“It has also become a common knowledge that, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited SPDC discharged sludge mixed with chemicals into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
“The discharge through one of their waste disposals pipes from the Forcados Terminal around Ogulagha and that it was not oil spill from any of the trunk line pipes conveying crude oil from the Forcados terminal.
“The conspiracy between SPDC and NOSDRA which has become very strong since the DG of NOSDRA is making all efforts to down play the act and divert attention.
“It is heart breaking and surprising that the Federal Government Regulation Agency , the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) is just waking up with a press release.
“The NOSDRA Director-General himself Mr. Idris Olubola Musa acted belatedly almost three months since the incident happened around the end of January 2020, haven earlier given the excuse that the COVID-!9 was a hindering him.
“Not only the belated nature of the response but the premature position while the results are awaited is intended to shield or conceal the real cause of the matter, the facility that caused it and the owners of the facility.
“This is quite unfortunate of a regulation agency. We are using this medium in appealing to NOSDRA to for once do the right thing as they are statutorily mandated to do.
“In the same vein we are urging the Governments of the affected states of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ondo and their respective National Assembly members and State Assembly members to rise up to their responsibilities to pursue this matter to its logical conclusion for the lives of their citizens,” Akene said.
In a reaction, Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA dismissed the claims and restated the committeemen of the spill agency to its mandate and a more strigent regulation of the maritime domain within Nigerian territorial waters.
Musa said that NOSDRA was coordinating a muli-agency investigation aimed at unraveling the cause of the reported massive death of fishes within the nation’s territorial waters and was looking beyond the oil spill.
He explained that other regulatory agencies with mandates of safety in the maritime space were deploying their expertise in the ongoing investigation assuring that the process was being carried out with best practices.
“The event of the death of fishes in large numbers make it expedient to look beyond oil spillage as the likely cause death of fishes in such large numbers as we found no trace of leakage to link with the dead fishes.
“The Agency proceeded to collect samples of water, sediments and some of the dead fish for laboratory testing. In doing so the agency brought onboard other relevant agencies of government that have mandate on our territorial waters.
“Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Instutue of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Federal Institute of Fisheries Research.
“Also included is the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) for an all hands on deck assessment of the possible cause or causes of death of the fishes in such large numbers,” Musa said.
The NOSDRA Chief Executive said that the results of ongoing laboratory analysis would be compared with results from the participating agencies to proffer an effective solution and ensure a more stringent regulations in future.
He said it was situations like this that informed the agency’s limitations to the use of chemical dispersants in the water bodies near human settlements and assurd that NOSDRA remained committed to a sustainable environment.
Public Affairs officials of Shell declined comments when contacted for a reaction on the allegations of discharging toxic chemicals from its operations.
An email request for comments to the oil firm on April 7 has yet to be responded to.
Ijaw Youth Council wants FG to probe pollution of N/Delta coastal waters
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) on Friday urged the Federal Government to probe the reported pollution of the Niger Delta coastline leading to massive death of fishes and sanction the polluter.
Mr Kenedy Olorogun, Chairman of IYC Transition Implementation Committee said in Yenagoa that the leadership of the group was worried that the increased toxicity of the waters is causing massive death of fishes.
He said that the Atlantic coastline across Edo, Delta Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom was littered by dead fishes, a development that posed danger to the predominantly fishing settlements near the coastline.
“The coastal communities and surrounding communities are presently facing severe cases of oil pollution and other toxic substances in the midst of the global pandemic.
“At the moment, marine life and the lives of the people of these coastal areas are under severe threat.
“The entire water body surrounding these communities have been severely despoiled by oil spillage and other toxic substances.
“There are unconfirmed reports that some of the major oil companies operating in these areas may have discharged very dangerous toxic substances into their rivers and creeks; coupled with oil spills which have resulted in the death of marine and aquatic life.
“These multinationals operating in the region care less about the environmental and economic impact of their oil explorative and extractive activities. There major goal is profit and not safety.
“The leadership of IYC would not sit idly and watch any community in Ijaw land or Niger Delta being destroyed by the avarice and greed of people who have not and are not contributing to the economic wellbeing of the Country.
“The Council is calling on relevant government institutions and agencies to swiftly come to the aid of these Ijaw Communities to mitigate the effect of the oil pollution and the discharge of toxic substances that are presently destroying aquatic and marine life.
“Government institutions; such as the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA).
“Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Environmental rights Organizations; locally and International should rise to the occasion and put an end; to the senseless and meaningless destruction of smarine life.
“The dangers posed also include the lives of humans and the ecosystem by these Oil Majors,” Olorogun said.
They demanded that a high powered investigative panel should be set up by the federal government where appropriate sanctions would be meted out to anyone or organization found culpable.
The youth leader said that in line with the ‘Polluter pays principle, the culprit would be prevailed to pay compensation to the people of the area, in order to serve as a deterrent to other companies and organizations.
” We have a government that has deliberated refused to send palliatives in this period of national and global lockdown to Communities in the Niger Delta. And they say we are ‘One Nigeria’.
“A time will come and very soon when resources found in our area would be used to develop our communities alone.
“Oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta are suffering severely under the yoke of mindless and barbaric exploitation of the resources in the region.
“Before the federal government declared lockdown in some States including the FCT, Communities in the Niger Delta were already in economic and environmental lockdown.
“ The people living in these communities no longer see themselves as citizens of Nigerian. Something needs to be done urgently.
“The extent of environmental pollution in the area is alarming. The death rate from oil and gas explorative activities of these multinationals exceeds what the world now know as the novel Coronavirus,” Olorogun lamented..
However, Mr Idris Musa, the Director-General of NOSDRA had said the spill agency would deploy manpower and resources to the sites to commence an investigation as soon as the lockdown for the COVID-19 is lifted.