Friday, December 3rd, 2021

Oil spills, FG ready to take strict measures against multinational companies in Niger Delta.

Oil spills, FG ready to take strict measures against multinational companies in Niger Delta.

With the ongoing disaster going on in the Niger Delta, the Federal Government has described the situation as unsuitable and catastrophic, and also announced plans to institute strong punishments for companies involved in oil spillage in the country. The Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, revealed this at the weekly ministerial press briefing

With the ongoing disaster going on in the Niger Delta, the Federal Government has described the situation as unsuitable and catastrophic, and also announced plans to institute strong punishments for companies involved in oil spillage in the country.

The Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, revealed this at the weekly ministerial press briefing organized by the Presidential Media Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. She said, the level of devastation in the Niger Delta is massive, adding that her office is planning to meet stakeholders in Ogoniland on the ongoing clean-up exercise to get their own assessment on how far government had gone.

She also described the situation as terrible, hinting that the Federal Government is working on strengthening legal regulations guiding responses to oil spills and similar accidents.

Questions were asked on the recent oil spillage on an OML 29 wellhead in Nembe area of Bayelsa State, which has reportedly caused a lot of damages in the environment,

Mrs. Ikeazor said her ministry was working on effecting a legislative review of some of the laws guiding functions within the sector.

According to her, a bill is being worked out to amend the law establishing the National Oil Spillage Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, to build its capacity and give it “the needed teeth to bite.”

She said: “What you’ve just described I got the briefing from the DG of NOSDRA and what I saw in terms of the pollution, either through oil refining, through illegal oil refining, and otherwise, the devastation of the Niger Delta is massive.

“As we are cleaning up, what we are cleaning up is minute compared to the devastation going on. So, it’s something that government has to tackle head on. I wish we had put the picture, there was a picture I saw, it was like Hiroshima sight. You remember Hiroshima in Japan? It was terrible. So, this is something we have to tackle head on. We are beyond talking and having workshops.

“Then on the issue of penalties, that’s why I mentioned earlier, the review of NOSDRA Act, if you know, most of our Acts were passed years ago, so you’ll find maybe they’ll give N100,000 fine. Anyone can pay that and go back and re-pollute. So, we need to put stiffer penalties in place, build the capacity of NOSDRA, which is the regulatory agency in the oil sector, to have the teeth to be able to bite.

“Without enhancing their capacity and reaffirming the legal framework, getting it stronger, they can’t do much. These are areas we’re looking into; it has to stop.

“Without enhancing their capacity and reaffirming the legal framework, getting it stronger, they can’t do much. These are areas we’re looking into; it has to stop.

On the Santa Barbara Aiteo oil spills, you remember the Ministry of Environment issued a statement stating what happened and the action being taken. It is a collective action between the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Ministry of Environment and the oil company involved.

“It goes beyond the oil companies giving out palliatives, they must put measures in place to prevent such accidents from happening.

“They are also claiming that the spill was due to sabotage by the local communities. We are going to have a targeted approach to illegal bunkering, tampering with oil installations and artisanal mining in the Niger Delta to get alternative means of livelihood for the young people of the Niger Delta, so that they would desist from this because it is further polluting the environment.

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