The people of Brass in Bayelsa, host to one of Nigeria’s crude oil export terminals, has written to the management of Agip Oil Company (NAOC), demanding the cleaning of the their community, and restoration of the damages caused to the Brass canal and surrounding environment in the 48 years operation of the company.
The 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 (SPDC) Limited in the Niger Delta state.
In the letter to the managing director of Agip by lawyers Ntephe, Smith and Wills, dated May 25, 2020, and made available to newsmen in Yenegoa last Saturday, the people of Brass 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. The people also accused the company of turning down suggestions of a joint inter-agency visit to the sites.
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% to 1,000% above regulatory limits as well as soil, ground water and air quality pollution were also adversely impacted leaving a toll on public health.
“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 letter said
There has not been any immediate reaction from either Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) or the parent company in Italy, Eni.
Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja