Date Published: 08/12/10
CHEVRON Spills Delta Fish Farms and Sensitive Wetlands
It is now (21) days since the oil spill occurred from a boat owned by Chevron Nigeria Limited and we are regrettably not closer to resolving critical issues surrounding the unfortunate incident that has devastated the environment, has thrown a lot of our people into poverty and is threatening to destabilize the peace and security of the present administration led by His Excellency, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
It is lamentable the lack of cooperation by Chevron in stepping forward to own up to the catastrophe caused by this spill, similar to the BP example in the Gulf of Mexico. Whilst the spill here is not on the same scale of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the leadership and sense of responsibility demonstrated by BP is clearly lacking here. The question to ask is whether Chevron will retain this difficult posture had a similar spill happened in the US? The answer is no.
It is therefore necessary to bring the following facts to the attention of the public: That a spill occurred from a sunken boat within Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) Dockyard, Warri in which substances suspected to be petroleum products flowed through Chevron facility to several communities.
That the State Government through the Honourable Commissioner for Environment promptly invited Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) to a meeting on Tuesday 3rd August, 2010 for a briefing on its role in the spill incidence. Following the briefing and presentation by Chevron Nigeria Limited, the State Government proceeded to constitute an Inter-Ministerial Committee comprising members from the State Ministry of Environment, Delta State Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Justice, Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Oil & Gas and Office of the Executive Assistant to the Governor on Micro Credit, representatives of the Ministries of Health and Information to investigate the incident.
That the committee swung into action on Wednesday 4th August, 2010 by visiting the impacted sites and met with stakeholders (Chevron Nigeria Limited and Fish farmers), collected samples for laboratory analysis in approved laboratories. However, initial expectation of Chevron’s full cooperation was not forthcoming. An example of stonewalling by Chevron began on Wednesday 4th August, 2010 when the company refused to allow access to its facility and source of the spill, stating that it needed 2weeks to prepare to enable it allow the members of the committee to visit their facility! This decision under an extreme emergency we have at hand demonstrated to us the insensitivity and cover-up strategy by Chevron of the scale of the spill that has occurred.
However, preliminary investigation has revealed that the quantity of petroleum products spilled is (18,000 litres) is far in excess of the 8litres claimed by Chevron and that the spill occurred in a tidal water which at high tide time spreads far beyond the Chevron facility.
To establish the impact of this spill on the lives and economic activities of the people living in the surrounding areas, on Thursday 5th August, 2010, the committee visited and assessed more impacted fish ponds in Uwvie. Investigation showed that the spill spread into and beyond the vast fish ponds of the United Ekpan Fish Farmers and over (1)51,890.00 fishes and counting have been recorded dead.
It should further be noted that the intervention by federal agencies on this issue has not moved Chevron to act. For example on Friday, the 6th August, 2010, the Officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had a full day session on the appraisal of the alleged Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) of 23rd July, 2010. The Committee observed obvious and unacceptable flaws in the JIV Report which was signed by Federal and State Regulators and Two (2) persons who claimed to be representatives of the impacted Communities. An unfortunate observation of the JIV Report is the fact that the JIV Team did not proceed beyond Chevron facility along the creeklet, inspite of the insistence of the State representative in the JIV team, Mr. Mario Eshalomi, that the team should go beyond as far as reasonably possible, the Tidal nature of the creeklet was also not considered by the JIV team, especially in view of the fact that the spill occurred 35hours before the JIV exercise was carried out.
His Excellency, the Deputy Governor accompanied by high powered Government officials on Friday 5th August, 2010 visited the impacted fish ponds and the polluted Creeklet which was still supplying Diesel pollutant at the time of the visit.
Regrettably, as we speak, Chevron has refused, failed and or neglected to commence the clean-up process of the spill, as investigations revealed that the impacted area was not boomed nor was any form of clean-up embarked upon by Chevron Nigeria Limited. Petroleum products still flow unabated destroying several marine life.
It is against this background we urge our citizens whose properties have been destroyed by the spill to remain calm, we call on Chevron Nigeria Limited to immediately mobilize and embark on a massive cleanup of the already impacted areas and ensuring that no further areas are impacted. This is what is expected of a responsible corporate citizen which we thought Chevron Nigeria Limited is.
DR (BARR.) BIBOBRA BELLO ORUBEBE
FA.I.R., LLB (HONS), BL, LLM & SJD
HONOURABLE COMMISSIONER FOR ENVIRONMENT
DELTA STATE NIGERIA.