The people of the coastal community of Brass in Bayelsa State have taken the Nigerian Agip Oil Company to task over alleged destruction of their community through the activities of the oil firm.
They, therefore, demanded the remediation of their environment and economic wellbeing occasioned by the damage to the Brass canal by the Agip-operated Brass Crude Export Terminal in the past 48 years.
Their demand was contained in the community’s letter to the Managing Director of the NAOC through a law firm, Ntephe, Smith & Wills, dated May 25, 2020.
NAOC operates the offshore oil terminal along with some onshore oil blocks in the swamps of Bayelsa in addition to joint venture stakes in other fields operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company in the state.
According to the letter released on Thursday, the remediation of the Brass canal is long overdue and being allegedly delayed by the oil firm.
The community recalled that despite a subsisting regulatory directive to conduct a Comprehensive Impact Assessment to determine the effects of the facility and proffer remedy and compensation, the oil firm was allegedly foot-dragging.
The oil firm was said to have also delayed the implementation of a joint inter-agency site visit to resolve the issue and commence remediation of the impacted areas.
The letter read in part: “In furtherance of the human security, economic and environmental interests of your hosts, Brass Kingdom, touching also on national interests and Bayelsa State’s strategic interest, we remind you of an overdue obligation on the Brass Canal viz.
“Proper remediation of ecological damage caused by continous discharge of toxic wastes at your Brass Terminal every day for the past 48 years.
“Adequate compensation based on impartial impact assesment, a restoration and pollution prevention plan as per best practices.
“We put you on notice to stop desperate attempts by your officials to compromise or induce key interests, aimed at evading regulatory compliance, frustrating the ministerial directive for an independent CIA as a basis for adequate remediation and compensation.”
The community also asked the oil firm to refrain from efforts to waive NAOC’s environmental obligations to the people of Brass Kingdom by inserting obnoxious clauses into draft Memorandum of Understanding with the people.
The community, through the letter, alleged that they noticed during a visit to the Brass canal in 2015 by environmental and legal experts that there was a daily discharge of some 150,000 barrels of toxic wastes consisting of untreated produced water and sludge.
The community claimed that on a cumulative basis, the volume of toxic discharge to the Brass Canal was in the region of 54.8 million barrels annually and approximately 2.6 billion barrels for the past 48 years.
The community members said that it was also found out that contaminant rate in the Brass canal ranged from 200 per cent to 1000 per cent above regulatory limits, adding that soil, ground water and air pollution were also affecting public health adversely.
The community, therefore, urged Agip, to in the interest of justice and amicable resolution, indicate interest to cooperate with the inter-agency regulatory team in the conduct of a credible assessment with equal representation by both parties.
However, when contacted for comments, Eni, the parent company of NAOC declined comments.
Media Relations Manager in charge of Sub-Saharan Africa, Cionni Marilia, had pledged to look into the matter and revert.