12 February 2014, Abuja – Last week, an eleven-member leaders’ delegation of 350 communities, cutting across Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states affected by the impact of massive crude oil spillage from the Shell/SNEPCO Bonga Fields of 21st December 2011, paid a save-our-soul (SOS) visit to the Ecological Fund Office -EFO, as part of efforts to draw public attention to the failure of Shell company to pay compensation to the affected communities more than two years after the serious incident that generated both national and international concern.
The visit is coming on the heels of outcry by residents of the Niger Delta and civil society of government’s inability to implement the extensive United Nations Environment Programmes’ (UNEP) report on Ogoniland.
On August 2011, UNEP presented to the Nigerian government environmental assessment of Ogoniland, a report regarded by Mr Ibrahim Thiaw, Director, Division for Environmental Policy Implementation as the most comprehensive and complex assessment ever undertaken by UNEP.
The assessment encompasses contaminated land, water, sediment, vegetation, air quality, public health, industry practices and institutional issues. And, it represents the best available understanding of what has happened to the environment of Ogoniland following 50 years of oil industry operations.
It also provided operational recommendations on how that legacy can be addressed, including priorities for action such as clean-up and remediation.
The report noted that the UNEP project team surveyed 122 kilometres of pipeline rights of way and visited oil spill sites, oil wells and other oil-related facilities in Ogoniland. These included decommissioned and abandoned facilities based on information provided by the government regulators, Shell Petroleum Development Company and community members in and around Ogoniland.
UNEP also used aerial reconnaissance to observe oil pollution not readily visible from the ground, including artisanal refining sites.
Following its initial investigations, UNEP identified 69 sites for detailed soil and groundwater investigations.
In addition, samples of community drinking water, sediments from creeks, surface water, rainwater, fish and air were collected throughout Ogoniland.
– Daily Trust