July 16, 2024

Shell, environmentalists differ on remediation of Ikarama spills site

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Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa

Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and environmentalists have disagreed over remediation of spill sites at Ikarama community in Bayelsa.

The environmentalists under the auspices of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) accused Shell and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) of improper clean-up and remediation of oil spill sites.

SPDC, however, denied the allegations and stated that its oil spills clean-up and remediation processes comply with industry best practices and supervised by the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency.

On their part, NAOC declined to comment on the claim by the environmental advocacy organisation when contacted.

Both SPDC and NAOC operated oil fields at Ikarama, in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa notorious for frequent oil spills.

ERA/FoEN in a field report titled, ‘Shell’s Improper Clean-up and Remediation of Spill Sites Exposed’ indicated that “crude oil was found at depths of one meter and above in the ground” at impacted sites the SPDC and NAOC claimed to have remediated.

The report signed by Alagoa Morris, Head of Field Operations at ERA/FoEN office in Yenagoa, and his Assistant Akpotu Ziworitin, indicated that the organisation visited Ikarama on August 20.

The environmental rights group explained that the visit followed information, including photos, it received from the community people claiming that crude oil was found in the ground in an area previously impacted by oil spills.

“On getting to the environment of interest, ERA/FoEN field monitors demanded that an entirely fresh spot be cleared and dug.

“It was eventually confirmed that crude oil was found in the dug area is in the depth of more than one meter,” the report stated.

The report said that field monitors of the organisation had visited the site several times since 2007.

The environmental rights group observed that “most of the oil spills have occurred within the immediate community environment close to residential buildings, farms and farmlands”.

“Over the years, ERA/FoEN has documented testimonies from community folks indicating improper clean-up of spill sites by SPDC.

“Oil spill sites go up in flames most often and areas where cleanup was attempted are often delayed before it is acted upon.

“This allows for percolation or leaching of crude oil into the ground. The fact that majority of the oil spills are recorded as third-party interference is also well known, even though community folks dispute some of the claims.

“However, community leaders/folks have alleged that some of the third-party oil spills in the community environment are instigated or sponsored by some staff or contractors of SPDC.

“Not only have these allegations been documented in field reports over ten years ago, but a recent research also pointed to the fact.

“This latest revelation has confirmed ERA/FoEN’s position over the years in monitoring and reporting the Ikarama environment that Shell has not been doing proper clean-up and remediation of oil spill impacted sites.

“This is the situation in all other communities in Bayelsa. Apart from the allegation of setting oil spill sites ablaze, Shell and Agip have not carried out proper clean-up and remediation of oil spill impacted environment,” ERA/FoEN stated.

ERA/FoEN called on relevant government authorities to ensure that the SPDC and Agip commit themselves operating in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The Non-Governmental Organisation urged them to get back to all spill sites in Bayelsa and carry out proper clean-up and remediation of all recorded spill sites in the interest of the people.

SPDC in a reaction, by Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, its Media Relations Manager maintained that the oil firm cleans up spill sites in accordance with standards set by the industry regulators.

“The SPDC uses primarily remediation by Enhanced Natural Attenuation (bioremediation) to clean up, a process believed to be the best for the soil and climate conditions of the hot and humid Niger Delta.

“Our clean-up and remediation are done under the regulatory oversight of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and the Department of Petroleum Resources, and in line with a DPR-approved Remedial Action Plan (RAP).

“All our remediation practices are aimed to be compliant with the Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria (EGASPIN).”

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