13 February 2014, Lagos – About 546 million gallons of crude oil have been spilled into the Niger Delta over the last 50 years. The quantity amounts to 11 million gallons a year, representing about 50 times the estimated volume spilled in the historic Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Alaska, United States, in 1989.
These revelations are contained in a letter written by 13 Nigerian and five international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) Bill, before the Senate.
The letter, a copy of which was given to THISDAY Wednesday, stressed the need for the passage of the NOSRDA Amendment Bill 2012 into law, as well as the need to ensure remediation and protection of the environment in the Niger Delta.
“The bill is due to be discussed in a Senate hearing on 12 February. The reform of the NOSDRA Act 2006 will provide clearer regulations and a strong response mechanism to deal with oil spills which will save millions of lives and improve the livelihoods of all the communities living in the Niger Delta,” it said.
The letter noted that in 2011, the United Nations Environment Programme reported that the Ogoniland region in the Niger Delta alone could take 30 years to recover from oil spills.
The NGOs called for an end to the spilling and destruction of the environment and the unacceptable devastation on the lives of local communities in the areas of oil exploration.
“This can be achieved by strengthening the institutional and regulatory power of NOSDRA, and enshrining the ‘polluter pays’ principle in law, which the NOSDRA Amendment Bill 2012 will do,” it added.
The groups urged the lawmakers to forge ahead with the NOSDRA Amendment Bill 2012 for the betterment of the environment and Nigerians.
Among those who endorsed the letter were Thelma Diwari, representing CBNHRSD; Head of Centre for Environment Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), Zabbey Nenibarini; Nick Hildyard of Cornerhouse; and the Executive Director of Foundation For Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD), Nelson Nnanna Nwafor.
– Ejiofor Alike, This Day