The process for the eventual remediation of ecological disruption in Brass Kingdom, Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa state may have begun. WILLIE ETIM, writes that the chiefs, elders and stakeholders are insisting on the engagement of a world class independent assessors to investigate and assess the extent of the cumulative impact of environmental damage suffered by the Kingdom.
The kingdom has suffered over 40 years of the exploitation and
exploration of oil and other activities by the Nigeria Agip Oil
Company ( NAOC*) in the area, especially the negative effect of the
artificial canals and dug out pits used in the discharge of effluents
from its operation in the community since the early 1970’s.
The people are also calling on the international community, the United
Nations Environment Programme ( UNEP), the International Maritime
Organization (IMO) and the World Health Organisation ( WHO), to compel
NAOC to enforce and implement comprehensive remediation, restoration
and safeguard programme based on credible impact study and adequate
valuation-based compensation and other remedies to entrench
environmental justice .
Worried by the insensitivity of the oil multinational after failed
attempts to get its management to review the environmental
challenges and pollution threat in the area, the community through
its legal representative , Barrister Iniruo Wills, on 24th of January
petitioned NAOC in a letter addressed to the Minister (of State) for Petroleum
Resources, Mr Ibe Kachukwu.
Mr Wills and a team of environment experts had made presentations to
the Petroleum Minster, drawing his attention to the damage done in
the community as a result of the effluent discharged continually on a
daily basis for over forty years.
The most egregious damage was wrought on the Brass River which serves
the people, through an artificial canal dug by the NAOC in the
The severity and imminent danger of the pollution
threat had compelled the Minister of State, Petroleum
Resources to empanel a Joint Ministerial visitation Committee, to
investigate the issues raised at the NAOC terminal located at Brass
to ascertain the impact of the pollution.
The Visitation team led by Mrs N O Jipreze, Director of Legal Services
in the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, with other members
drawn from the Federal Ministry of Environment, NOSDRA, DPR and NPDC
in collaboration with the Management of NAOC embarked on the tour of
the facilities on the 6th of March.
However the glaring absence of the petitioner which was read as
deliberate exclusion heightened suspicion that the management of NAOC
have some facts to hide.
The Amayanabo of Twon Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, during a
courtesy call by the investigative panel at his palace in Twon Brass,
disclosed that there was a Memorandum of Understanding ( M.o.U)
between the NAOC and the community at the time of the excavation of
the canal when the company was given the licence to start operation
He said the M.o.U spelt out the conditions in which the canal and
effluent from the export process will be managed. One of the items of
agreement, according to the King, was the engagement of Independent
International assessors separately by NAOC and the Brass Kingdom for a
periodic assessment of the impact of the activities of the oil giant.
According to the King, the exercise has not been undertaken in the
past 40 years. He however expressed the hope that with a
ministerial visitation, the process of the assessment has begun.
Mrs Jipreze had assured the Monarch that the team will
critically examine the findings of the investigation with a view to
finding a lasting solution to the problems.
Mr Dan-Jombo, the Operational Divisional Manager, NAOC, who led the
investigation at the terminal, said that they had done their work
diligently and hoped to report accordingly.
Mr Wills had during his presentation to the Ministry of Petroleum
Resources last June disclosed that because the Brass Terminal houses
major facilities for dehydration, treatment and other ancillary
activities that precede the export of crude oil at the loading
platform, it generates waste such as tank bottom sludge, oily waste,
highly saline brines and other petroleum hydrocarbons contaminants.
According to him the dewatering process produces up to 150,000 barrels
nof produce water per day discharged through the Brass Canal.
He said the total petroleum hydrocarbon concentration within the Brass
canal ranges from 17,800mg/kg, to 88,500mg/kg which exceed the
intervention value of 5000mg/kg set out in EGASPIN.
An environmental expert and a consultant to the community, Dr
Ferdinand Giadom, had explained that in the course of the operation of
the Brass Terminal over the years, a lot of contaminants have been
released into the canal and that this has come as sludge and
sediment at the bottom of the canal.
Mr Woyengikuro Agadah a former director at the Bayelsa state
Ministry of Environment,, said the problem is that the Nigeria Agip
Oil Company must accept the fact their activities have been polluting
the environment and that the extent of the damage can only be
determined through scientific methods.