By Moses Ojo
Oil companies operating in Nigeria have been reminded of an existing law which makes cleaning up of oil spill mandatory for them whether it results from equipment failure or sabotage.
The Director General (DG) of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDA), Mr. Peter Idabor who stated this at a forum observed that oil spill in any community always causes ecological catastrophe.
He appealed to the Federal Government to empower the Agency to criminalise oil spill as a way to checkmate the careless attitude of some oil companies operating in the nation’s Niger Delta region.
According to him, the methodology for cleaning oil spill in any community will be aimed at providing employment for the youths in such communities to empower them.
“From our research, when there is a spill of oil, the residents of communities concerned will attribute it to the equipment failure of the operating companies. But on their own part, the companies will say it is sabotage on the part of the people.
“At this point, what we always do is to point the attention of the oil companies to the position of the law in this respect.
“What the law says is that either it is sabotage or equipment failure, the company concerned must clean up,” he said.
He said it is the responsibility of his agency to carry out investigation and inspection to determine the volume of oil spilled and recover the oil, remediate and restore the environment to its former state.
In his comment, Dr Uche Umakpa decried the challenges facing the residents of the riverine areas of the country noting that the activities of oil companies have been making life difficult for the people whose health is directly affected by the attendant environmental hazards.
“Aside environmental pollution, these people do not have good and hygienic water supply and they are exposed to different health challenges.
“Due to the toxins from chemicals, life expectancy in Niger Delta is put at 40 years.
“In addition, the people inhale polluted air, causing cold, cancer and asthma, courtesy of oil exploration and exploitation by these carefree oil companies,” he said.