Onungwe Obe in Yenagoa
Brass, the host community of one of Nigeria’s crude oil export terminals, has asked Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to carry out the cleaning of the community in order to restore the damages that the 48 years old operation of the company has done to the Brass canal and surrounding environment.
The demand of the community was contained in a letter to the managing director of Agip by lawyers, Ntephe, Smith and Wills, dated May 25, 2020.
NAOC, an Italian firm is the operator of the oil terminal along with some onshore oil blocks in the swamps of Bayelsa State and Joint Venture (JV) stakes in other fields operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company limited in the state.
In the letter, which was made available to journalists in Yenagoa yesterday, the community alleged that the long overdue remediation of the Brass canal was being delayed by Agip.
The community said there has been a subsisting regulatory directive for the company to conduct a Comprehensive Impact Assessment (CIA) to determine the effect of the export terminal and proffer remedy and compensation.
It also alleged that the company refused to arrange a joint inter-agency visit to the sites.
According to the letter, “In furtherance of the human security, economic and environmental interests of your host, Brass Kingdom, touching also on Nigeria’s national interests and Bayelsa State’s strategic interest, we remind you to the overdue obligation on the Brass Canal viz: ‘Proper remediation of ecological damage caused by continuous discharge of toxic wastes at your Brass terminal every day for the past 48 years.
“Adequate compensation based on impartial impact assessment, a restoration and pollution prevention plan as per best practices.
“We put you on notice to stop desperate attempts by your officers to compromise or induce key interests aimed at evading regulatory compliance, frustrating the ministerial directive for an independent Comprehensive Impact Assessment as a basis for adequate remediation and compensation.”
The community alleged that during a visit to the Brass Canal in 2015 by environmental and legal experts, it was discovered that some 150,000 barrels of toxic waste consisting of untreated produce water and sludge were discharged every day into the canal.
They put cumulative volume of toxic discharged into the Brass Canal to 54.8 million barrels annually and approximately 2.6 billion barrels for the past 48 years.
They stated that contaminant rate in the Brass Canal ranged from 200 per cent to 1,000 per cent above regulatory limits as well as soil, ground water and air quality pollution were also adversely impacted leaving a toll on public health.
Eni, the parent company of NAOC, declined immediate reaction to the demand from the community, but the Media Relations Manager in charge of Sub-Saharan Africa, Cionni Marilia, promised to revert to them soon.