BAYELSA TASKS OIL COMPANIES ON BEST PRACTICES, SITING OF OFFICES, AS GOVT PLEDGES ITS INVOLVEMENT IN DETAILED MONITORING AND OVERSIGHT OF POLLUTION MANAGEMENT ACTIVITIES
The Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment says it will be involved in the detailed monitoring and oversight of pollution management activities in the state.
The Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Iniruo Wills stated this in Yenagoa, while briefing media men on Thursday concerning certain administrative, regulatory and legal enforcement measures to ensure environmental best practices by the petroleum industry and other major oil operators in the state.
“The Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment will henceforth be involved in the detailed monitoring and oversight of pollution management activities: from containment, recovery, clean – up and remediation to restoration of affected sites, communities and ecosystems”
“The Ministry in collaboration with the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) will require the registration, regulatory accreditation and/or pre-qualification of contractors and consultants before they are engaged for clean – up and remediation operations”
Mr. Wills also responded to two recent oil spill disasters that occurred from the facilities and operations of the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, said the pollution affected Ogboinbiri, Tebidaba, Keme-Ebiama, Ikebiri communities among others in Southern Ijaw Local Government area.
According to him, these recent pollution disasters have brought back into focus, the plight that has become almost a daily occurrence in the State and noted that, the response by operators of the facilities have been grossly unsatisfactory.
“We shall also confirm and certify satisfactory completion of work before the close out of such remedial operations. This is in light of our observation that most clean up jobs are shoddily done, sometimes involving the hazard of burning forests and vegetations either as a deliberate “clean up” measure or as an accidental but easily foreseeable consequence of unprofessional and poorly monitored execution. Our position is also informed by the rampant failure of the clamps put in place to contain previous spills, thus leading to fresh spillages”
The Commissioner maintained that, the priority placed on pollution prevention and diligent post spill management by oil industry operators is abysmally low, warning that, the government would henceforth insist on environmental best practices from oil producing companies.
To this end, Mr. Wills said the State Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, would require the registration, regulatory accreditation and pre-qualification of contractors and consultants, before they are engaged for clean – up and other remediation operations.
To make the operators more accountable for the consequences of their operations, he expressed the state government’s intention to pursue the prescription of a mandatory strict compliance of the liability pollution insurance by petroleum industry operators to protect communities.
The commissioner, who stressed that, upon the non – compliance or failure of the oil companies, the government would not hesitate to explore avenues for adequate redress, including payment of professionally valued compensations, civil and criminal fines.
Mr. Wills re-emphasized the government’s position on the operation of the companies by calling on the SPDC to show a greater presence in the State by upgrading its current status of a mere liaison office to an executive/administrative base with high capacity manning levels commensurate with the volume of its operations, which include some of the most prolific onshore fields in the country, such as OML 29.
He also handed down similar directives to Agip, Chevron and Consolidated Oil (Conoil), pointing out that, their presence would help to reverse the massive pollution and disaster trail and safeguard the delicate ecology of the State.