press releaseBy Bukola Saraki
Abuja — The Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology today met with Shell Nigeria over the lingering oil spills and environmental degradation of Ogoni.
The meeting, which was attended by the Managing Director/Country Chairman of Shell Mutiu O A Sunmonu and a team of shell officials made a commitment to the committee to take immediate steps to remediate the oil spill impacted areas of Ejema Ebubu and Bomu Manifold communities before the end of 2013.
It would be recalled that the Committee chaired by Sen. (Dr.) Bukola Saraki had on October 1st 2012 paid an unscheduled visit to several oil spill sites in Ogoniland as part of its oversight visit. During the visit the Committee was appalled by the deplorable condition of most of the sites visited with the attendant suffering it has brought to the people in those communities with some of the sites still oozing crude oil after several years of neglect.
At the meeting, which was held at the National Assembly Complex, the Committee expressed its displeasure at the delays in cleanup and remediation exercise of the oil spill sites and the ineffectiveness of many remediation methods so far adopted in the country. The Committee reiterated its discontent over Shell handling of Ejema ebubu, Bomu Manifold, Goi and Bodo spills sites among others and requested Shell to commit to fully cleanup and remediate the sites before the end of the year.
In its response, Shell complained that they are willing to remediate the impacted sites within its right of way but where the spills are out of its right of way, their biggest challenge has been that of the communities not allowing access to such sites. This it maintained is the reason why it may not give definite commitment to the Committee on the remediation of Goi and Bodo oil spill sites within the year, but committed to the remediation of the Ejema Ebubu and Bomu Manifold Communities as earlier stated.
The Committee on its part promised to liaise with state governments, relevant government agencies and the communities to ensure that Shell gets the necessary access to enable it start effective remediation of the areas where it have been denied access in the past.
Many consider the outcome of the meeting as a remarkable development and a step in the right direction in the management of oil spills and degradation of the Niger Delta. It will be recalled that the committee is pushing through the National Assembly, a Bill initiated by the chairman of the Committee to set penalties for oil spills and ensure that responsible parties clean up and remediate impacted sites promptly.