American oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited, at the weekend dismissed the directive of the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum Upstream and Environment for the commencement of the payment of compensation to communities affected by the January 16 gas explosion at the KS Endeavour rig in Fulwa field in Bayelsa State.
The Senate Joint Committee had, last month, met with the management of the Chevron Nigeria Limited and urged that, besides sending relief materials to affected areas, plans should be put in place to immediately make available alternative sources of livelihood for the communities.
But the management of the company has dashed the hope of the community and ruled out payment of compensation to victims of the incident. The oil firm contended that an independent evaluation of the environment indicated that there was no scientific evidence of damage done to the ecosystem of the coastal communities.
The communication manager of Chevron, Mr. Adesola Adebawo, who reacted over the issue via email, said: "We have listened to their concerns and explained what happened, and we are responding. So far, independent evaluation of the environment has revealed no scientific evidence of impacts to the coastal environment or ecosystem."
He added that "there was no oil spill and the shoreline was not polluted," stressing that, after the incident, Chevron had donated food items and other relief materials to several communities along the coastal lines.
"The donations were in appreciation of the assistance the villagers provided during the incident, including locating and rescuing some workers from the drilling rig," he said, adding that "apart from food and other relief materials, Chevron also donated medical supplies to the communities, while public health experts from the University of Benin were commissioned to carry out independent medical assessment residents in the communities".