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Oil spills in Nigeria: health risks and environmental degradation

Oil spill in Niger Delta Oil spill in Niger Delta

Emem Edoho, President of the Children Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction Organization (CSDRRO) shares with GNDR members a report of the environmental hazards, degradation, air and water pollution in the oil producing communities of Akwa Ibom state in Nigeria and pleads for the adequate settlement of compensation to the victims of the oil spills of 2012 caused by negligence of major oil and gas producing companies in the area. 

Oftentimes, residents of various oil producing communities in Nigeria lives in agonizing conditions, economically and socially, arising from years of neglects and deprivations and severe environmental degradations, air and water pollutions, caused by the production activities of most oil and gas companies in the area. Akwa Ibom state is one of the major oil producing states in Nigeria with the oil bearing communities bearing the major brunt of this devastations, with attendant economic losses and health risks, etc, to the residents of the area arising from massive perennial oil spills, gas flares, etc from oil companies, like Mobil Producing Nig. Ultd, Septa Energy, Universal Energy, etc. These communities are: Esit Eket, Eket, Ibeno and Onna L.G.As respectively.

The major occupation of the people of this hosts communities includes, crop farming, subsistence and industrial or commercial fishing, trading, fitters, etc. With the constant massive oil spills, particularly the oil spills of July through August, 2012, from Mobil producing Nigeria Ultd negligent acts, the farmers and fishermen, such as members of Idua Ntak Inyang Farmers Multi-purpose cooperative society ltd have retained the services of legal consultants and rights activists –Barr. Innih Archibong of Liberty Chambers, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, to demand for settlement of oil spill claims of N2 Billion Naira ( about One Million USD) for its members from Mobil producing Nigeria. Till today, more than 3 years since the oil spills occurred in the area and spreads to the entire coastlines from Onna, through Ikot Abasi to Mbo L.G.A, affecting the riverine fishing settlements and crops, destroying the ecosystem, and marine lives, thus affecting the economic livelihood of the farmers and fishermen, Mobil is yet to settle the victims of the spills or gas flares from their facilities, despite repeated demands or protests by various groups or youth and women organizations in the area. Consequently, this has exposed the teeming dependents of these farmers and fishermen to severe hardships, joblessness and or loss of economic earnings.

Instead of settling the victims of this sad incidence of oil spills, apart from the continuous daily gas flares from Mobil producing Nigeria facilities in QIT fields, they have resorted to spending about N7billion to carry out palliative community development projects in the area, which ordinarily falls within her statutory corporate social responsibility to the communities as oil producing company in the area. Therefore, we strongly disagree with the management of Mobil producing Nigeria limited in the poor handling of this oil spills in the communities, and the continuous flaring of poisonous gas in the environment. Thus, causing severe air and water pollution, which constitutes severe risks to the health of the inhabitants, asides economic losses. Mobil should as matter of safe environment stop gas flaring.

CONCLUSION:
In the light of the foregoing, we wish to state as follows:

  • 1. Mobil should settle the victims of the oil spills of 2012 adequately to compensate for economic risks and disaster met out to the inhabitants of mobil producing hosts communities from Esit Eket, Eket, Onna, and Ibeno, etc.
  • 2. Mobil should repairs all obsolete oil production facilities, including pipelines, valves, etc to prevent oil spillages.
  • 3. Mobil should stop gas flaring in the host community or any territory within Akwa Ibom State to save the environment as the flaring affects clean air and safe drinking water available to the inhabitants, and also the preservation of the biodiversity in general.
  • 4. Mobil should comply with international environmental best practices and standards in their operations in Nigeria.
  • 5. Mobil should explore ways of recycling the gas flared for productive economic activities and create the much needed employment for the youths and cater for the needs of vulnerable children, disable people , etc.

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