13 June 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Henry Seriake Dickson, has said that there was no justification for operating illegal refineries, which further degrade and pollute the already compromised Niger Delta environment.
To this end, the governor said plans were underway by the state government to set up a task force to check the activities of illegal crude oil refineries to protect the Bayelsa environment.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Francis Agbo, said the governor who disclosed these in Yenagoa, decried the establishment of illegal refineries in the state which he noted degrade the environment and destroy lives.
Governor Dickson disclosed that his administration had engaged the services of internationally acclaimed forensic experts to compile the effects of prolonged oil pollution on the environment and health of the people in the state.
The governor who called for collective efforts to reclaim the environment, observed that decades of oil pollution and gas flaring in the state and the Niger Delta have resulted in rising cases of health hazards, thereby shortening the life span of the people.
“The Niger Delta Environment has been under severe, sustained and brutal attack by forces that they do not control. They have not only invaded the land and expropriated their property but are now threatening to exterminate the people.
“A lot of actions would be taken and we will mobilise local and international opinions on this. There are legislative measures that I will also call on the State Assembly to undertake.
“A time that your environment is a ticking time bomb is not the time to resort more or less to what we may call, some element of self-help by breaking into pipelines and making sure that more pollution takes place. All of us should be soldiers for the protection of the environment.”
The governor also lamented the exclusion of people from the Niger Delta region in the oil and gas industry.
“I fully support the indigenization of the oil and gas industry. This is the only country in the world where, the Niger Delta, that is the source of crude is not playing host to all the refineries.
“So there is a case to be made for economic inclusion and I am an advocate for that and I owe no apology to anyone. Whether this will take the form of oil mining leases awarded to our people, why not? Whether this will mean involving them in terms of citing refineries and letting them run businesses in that sector, why not?
“Whether this will mean employing our youths, who are qualified in the oil and gas industry that is ours, why not?”
On his part, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Ebipatei Apaingolo, said the state is the most impacted in oil pollution from the activities of various oil companies operating in the Niger Delta.
Apaingolo said, his Ministry participated in 274 oil spill joint investigation visits on Agip facilities and recorded 580 cases of oil spill.
According to him, other oil companies are not free from such incessant incidents of oil spillage and no adequate compensation or significant environment clean-up has been made so far.