Bayelsa Tightens Policies On Pollution Management
THE Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment has said it will be involved in close monitoring of activities of oil companies to ensure proper pollution management in oil producing communities in the state.
The Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Iniruo Wills stated this in Yenagoa, recently, while briefing newsmen on administrative, regulatory and legal enforcement measures to ensure environmental best practices by oil operators.
He said, “The Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment will henceforth be involved in the detailed monitoring and oversight of pollution management activities, from containment, recovery, clean-up and remediation to restoration of affected sites, communities and ecosystems.
“The ministry, in collaboration with the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), will require the registration, regulatory accreditation and/or pre-qualification of contractors and consultants before they are engaged for clean-up and remediation operations.”
Mr. Wills also responded to two recent oil spill disasters that occurred from the facilities and operations of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), said the pollution affected Ogboinbiri, Tebidaba, Keme-Ebiama, Ikebiri communities, among others in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area (LGA).
He noted that the recent pollution disasters have brought into focus the plight that has become almost a daily occurrence in the state, noting that the response by operators of the facilities have been grossly unsatisfactory.
“We shall also confirm and certify satisfactory completion of work before the close out of such remedial operations. This is in light of our observation that most clean-up jobs are shoddily done.
And, sometimes, they involve the hazard of burning forests and vegetations either as a deliberate “clean-up” measure or as accidental. But, in the end, it shows that an unprofessional and poorly monitored job was done. Our position is also informed by the rampant failure of the clamps put in place to contain previous spills, thus leading to fresh spillages.”
The commissioner maintained that the priority placed on pollution prevention and diligent post spill management by oil industry operators is abysmally low, warning that the government would henceforth insist on environmental best practices from oil producing companies.
To make the operators more accountable for the consequences of their operations, he stressed the state government’s intention to pursue the prescription of a mandatory strict compliance of the liability pollution insurance by petroleum industry operators to protect communities.
He maintained that, upon the non-compliance or failure of the oil companies, the government would not hesitate to explore avenues for adequate redress, including payment of professionally valued compensations, civil and criminal fines.