Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

The Bayelsa State Government has sent a protest letter to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company complaining about pollution of the state’s environment by oil spills from Agip facilities.

In the letter, which was addressed to NAOC’s Managing Director, by the Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Iniruo Wills, the government noted with dismay what it described as the alarming number of oil spills in the state.

Wills said on Monday that from 2014 till date, over 1000 spills occurred from facilities belonging to Agip across the state without commensurate efforts to clean them up and restore the affected environment and communities.

In 2014, Wills said 800 spills occurred in Agip operational areas in 2014 while 200 had so far happened in the present year.

Copies of the protest letter were sent to President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the state governor, the National Oil Spill Detection and Regulatory Agency and others.
The commissioner said, “We have noted with dismay the alarming number of oil spills in Bayelsa State, with no commensurate efforts to clean them up and restore the affected environment and communities.

“In 2014 alone, well over eight hundred spills occurred in the land and swamp areas of your operations; yet a dismal figure of less than twenty sites were certified to have been cleaned, from our records.

“Over two hundred spills have been recorded this year, just from your facilities in the swamp area within the state.

Again, there seems to be no commitment or systematic plan on your part to clean up these sites, thus worsening the dehumanising environmental status that would not be tolerated anywhere else in the world.

“We, therefore, request your organization/group to immediately initiate action in ensuring that all oil impacted sites in Bayelsa State are satisfactorily cleaned up before the 31st of December, 2015.

“You are to please present to the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment before the 30th of October, 2015 an initial work plan for this comprehensive clean up programme which the Ministry intends to enforce in collaboration with other stakeholders and regulatory authorities.

“This is in furtherance of the Bayelsa State Government’s zero-pollution target and overall sustainable development plan for the state.”

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