Bayelsa State Government has handed down a December 31, 2015, deadline to Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, to clean up over 1,000 spill sites in the state.
In a letter to the management of NAOC, the state government decried the poor spill response by the oil firm.
The letter dated September 18, 2015, and signed by Mr Iniruo Wills, Bayelsa State Commissioner for Environment, lamented that less than 20 sites of over 800 spills that occurred in 2014 had been remediated and cleaned.
Wills noted that the government was dismayed by the alarming frequency of spills from oil fields operated by Agip in the state without tangible efforts to mitigate the effects of the pollution on the environment.
The commissioner observed that of the over 200 spill incidents so far recorded in 2015, no effort was made to clean and remediate the sites as stipulated by existing environmental laws.
The letter read in part: “We have noted with dismay the alarming number of oil spills in Bayelsa State, with no commensurate effort to clean them up and restore the affected environment and communities. In 2014 alone, well over 800 spills occurred in the land and swamp areas of your operations; yet a dismal figure of less than 20 sites were certified to have been cleaned, from our records. Over 200 spills have been recorded this year, just from your facilities in the swamp area within the state.
“We, therefore, request your organization to immediately initiate action in ensuring that all oil impacted sites in Bayelsa State are satisfactorily cleaned up before the 31st of December, 2015.
“Again, there seems to be no commitment or systematic plan on your part to clean up these sites, thus worsening the dehumanizing environmental status that would not be tolerated anywhere else in the world.”
The government called on Agip to come up with a clean-up plan and submit same to the Environment Ministry before October 30, 2015.
“You are to please present to the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment before the 30th of October, 2015 an initial work plan for this comprehensive cleanup programme,” the government said.