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Bayelsa issues ultimatum to Agip to clean up over 1,000 spill sites

The Bayelsa government on Monday directed the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, to clean up over 1,000 spill sites in the state before December 31, 2015.

In a letter to the management of NAOC, made available to newsmen in Yenagoa, the state government frowned at the poor spill response by the oil firm.

According to the letter by the state commissioner for Environment, Iniruo Wills, less than 20 out of over 800 spills that occurred in 2014 have been remediated and cleaned.

Mr. Wills noted that the government was dismayed by the alarming frequency of spills from oil fields operated by Agip in Bayelsa State without tangible efforts to mitigate the effects of the pollution on the environment.

The commissioner observed that out of the over 200 spill incidents so far recorded in 2015, no efforts were being made to clean and remediate the sites as stipulated by existing environmental laws.

“We have noted with dismay the alarming number of oil spills in Bayelsa State, with no commensurate efforts to clean them up and restore the affected environment and communities.

“In 2014 alone, well over eight hundred spills occurred in the land and swamp areas of your operations; yet a dismal figure of less than twenty sites were certified to have been cleaned, from our records.

“Over two hundred spills have been recorded this year, just from your facilities in the swamp area within the state.

“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.

“We therefore request your organization/group to immediately initiate action in ensuring that all oil impacted sites in Bayelsa State are satisfactorily cleaned up before the 31st of December, 2015,” the letter read in part.

The state government further requested Agip to come up with a cleanup plan and submit same to the Ministry of Environment 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 Ministry intends to enforce this in collaboration with other stakeholders and regulatory authorities.

“This is in furtherance of the Bayelsa State Government’s zero-pollution target and overall sustainable development plan for the State,” Mr. Wills stated.

In response, Filipo Cotalini, the spokesman of Eni – the parent company of Agip – said in an email on Monday that the company would respond in due course.

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