Port Harcourt — The Environmental Rights Action, has accused the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, of failing in its responsibility to test, analysis and certify Ogoni clean-up sites, reportedly completed by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP.
This is as HYPREP has announced completing the remediation of five polluted sites out of the 21 sites, awarded to contractors in January 2019 in the phase one of the clean-up process.
But, the Executive Director of ERA, Dr. Godwin Uyi-Ojo, has challenged HYPREP to show certification from NOSDRA to prove that the said sites have been fully remediated.
Ojo regretted that HYPREP and the Federal Government have failed the Ogoni people for not being able to make meaningful progress in the remediation of the polluted areas, nine years after the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, report.
Speaking in Port Harcourt on the 9th year of Ogoni Environmental Report Implementation, the ERA boss stated that the sites attempted to be cleaned by HYPREP was below expectations and had no certification from NOSDRA.
“NOSDRA, the body saddled with the responsibility for certification of cleanup and remediation work has not visited these sites to certify that the work done complies with contractual ore regulatory requirements but HYPREP and the ministry of Environment have already cleared some of them and asked them to backfill their sites.
“There is disquiet all over Ogoni and palpable disconent across the land. A wall of resisitaance is rising against the failing of HYPREP.
“We demand that the certification of NOSDRA must be sought and had before HYPREP gives the go ahead for excavated trenches to be back filled. As it is right now, none of the sites supposedly completed by contractors, have NOSDRA certification that they had cleaned the soil to the level in the contract they signed with HYPREP.
“We demand an independent verification mechanism be set up to evaluate whether the remediation work by contractors meet the parameters set out in the contractual agreement with HYPREP. This has become imperative considering claims that laboratories where samples are analysed are either owned by contractors engaged in the cleanup and remediation process or top management of HYPREP.
“We want NOSDDRA to certify with evidence that the job being done there meets with accepted standards.”
Ojo, represented by the Programme Manager, ERA, Barr. Mike Karikpo, also raised concerns over the credibility of the laboratories used within the state on confirmation of remediated soils, alleging the laboratories used by HYPREP were compromised.
“There are concerns that the laboratories in Port Harcourt where soil samples from the cleanup sites are taken for analysis have been compromised.
“We have testimonies from workers in the field that most samples do not meet regulatory or contractual requirements, but they are given the all clear by these laboratories.
“There is absence of independent verification of the results churned out by the laboratories in Harcourt. There are also concerns that some of these laboratories are owned by the contractors engaged in the cleanup process and others are owned by senior officials of HYPREP.”
Asked if ERA has confidence in NOSDRA to appropriately certify the sites remediated by HYPREP, Ojo said, “We do not, because even the level of inconsistencies and lack of synergy between NOSDRA and HYPREP which are both under the Ministry of Environment tells that something is missing.
“But we want NOSDRA to follow due process, we will also have the opportunity to also carryoutindependent test and analysis of samples taken from the acclaimed remediated sites and compare with what NOSDRA must have submitted.
“Right now, we may not be able to access the samples, but if NOSDRA has done theirs, because it is a government agency, we will be able to compare theirs with independent analysis.”