Tuesday, 18 September 2012

U-Report: Group Accuses Shell Of Environmental Offences

Part Of The Oil Spill

Report By:  Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor (08033383708)

An environmental rights group, the Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development (FENRAD) has accused the oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) of playing double standard in its relationship with her host community, Umuorie in Ukwa West local government area of Abia State.

FENRAD alleged that SPDC went behind to destroy evidence of oil spillage which occurred at Usankanya River near Isimiri Flow Station owned by SPDC On August 25, 2011.

In a press statement signed by the Executive Director Comrade Nnanna Nwafor, Programme coordinator Henry Nwaigwe and Director of Administration, Chuka Okoye, the group which said it is acting on behalf of the community maintained that it has written several letters to call SPDC to order but to no avail.

In response to the plea of the community, FENRAD Said it took it upon itself to carry out an inspection visit of the affected site in order to ascertain the degree of damage done by the spill.

According to the statement, the inspection team comprised FENRAD staff and elders of the community which included Chiefs Samuel Akoma, John Nwaorgu (President General of the Community), Lazarus Nwarie (Umunkwocha Village Head).

At the inspection, the team discovered that the community’s only source of drinking water has been polluted as the spillage has spread to neighbouring communities of Umukalu, Umuituru, Umuebulengwu, Obohia and
Obunku. It also added that farm lands and crops and fishes have been destroyed while the environment has been oozing with crude oil thereby creating serious environmental hazards.

The group further stated that after the inspection visit, it wrote series of letters titled,” Urgent Attention to Call SPDC to order” to regulatory agencies like National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), but said SPDC allegedly went behind to destroy evidence of the oil spillage. It disclosed that SPDC visited the site on September 5, 2011 for inspection and put a flow tube to the surface of the water, with no further action taken till date.


FENRAD said it also issued a 14 days ultimatum to SPDC for prompt action but the latter refuse to heed to its calls.”It is pertinent to note that your continued delay in cleaning up the spillage site as well as paying
compensation to the adjourning third party is spelling environmental danger to the affected areas,” the ultimatum read in part.

The group also submitted video clips, scanned pictures of the spillage site and the acknowledgment copy of a reminder letter earlier submitted by the Umuorie community to SPDC. Copies were sent to the Minster for
Environment, Commissioner for Environment, Abia State, and Abia State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ASOPADEC).

The group also accused SPDC of playing divide and rule tactics by trying to buy over some elders of the community instead of being a good corporate organization.

The group regretted that these efforts have not yielded fruit as the oil giant has continued to shun its responsibilities.”We, together with the host community are once again, inviting them for a joint investigation
visit with government agencies. This aim is to make them know the extent of damage being done to the farm lands and lives of the people. SPDC should clean up the spillage thoroughly and pay proper compensation. The idea of going behind to destroy evidence of the spillage will not be allowed to stand,” FENRAD noted.

The reports of the JOINT Assessment Reports showed that the oil spillage  that occur has heavily impacted the communities and other adjourning third parties. FENRAD have been given the Power of Attorney by the community, and expect SPDC to consult the organization before any remedy will be done, this will enable the organization Engage environmental valuation experts that will ensure that proper remedy is done in line with the best international practices.

FENRAD said it collected enough evidence of Shell and regulators' environmental offences and may be heading to court to seek redress over breach of environmental laws.

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