Eni, the Italian parent company of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) has denied abdicating its duties in the remediation of the adverse impact of its oil export terminal located in Brass, Bayelsa.
The position followed a letter by the oil firm’s host community in Bayelsa, seeking expedited action on remediation of a 48 year old impact on the Brass settlement.
The Brass Community in Bayelsa in the May 25th letter, demanded remediation on the environmental and economic damages to the Brass Canal by the Brass Crude Export Terminal in the past 48 years.
The letter dated May 25, by the community to the Managing Director of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) was via a law firm Ntephe, Smith and Wills for the Brass settlement.
NAOC, an affiliate of Italian Energy firm Eni, operated the offshore oil terminal along with some onshore oil blocks in the swamps of Bayelsa, in addition to Joint Venture stakes in other fields operated by Shell in the state.
According to the statement from an Eni Spokesperson, in response to the community’s letter, the oil firm denied allegations of abandoning the remediation and said that it was working with regulators on the remediation.
“NAOC denies the allegations brought forward in the mentioned petition.
“ As in all the communities where it operates across the Niger Delta, the company is in constructive contact with the community’s leadership, and is working with the community, its legitimate legal representatives, and regulators to address issues of mutual concern to the parties, including environmental issues,” Eni stated.
According to the community’s letter, a copy of which was seen by NAN in Yenagoa on Thursday, the remediation of the Brass Canal is overdue and being delayed by the oil firm.
The community recalled that despite a subsisting regulatory directive to conduct a Comprehensive Impact Assessment (CIA) to determine the effect of the facility and proffer remedy and compensation, the oil firm was foot-dragging.
According to them, the oil firm has also delayed the implementation of a joint inter-agency site visit to resolve the issue and commence remediation of the impacted areas.
“In furtherance of the human security, economic and environmental interests of your hosts, Brass Kingdom, touching also on Nigeria’s national interests and Bayelsa state’s strategic interest, we remind you of overdue obligation on the Brass Canal viz.
“Proper remediation of ecological damage caused by continuous discharge of toxic wastes at your Brass Terminal everyday for the past 48 years.
“Adequate compensation based on impartial impact assessment, a restoration and pollution prevention plan as per best practices.
“We put you on notice to stop desperate attempts by your officers to compromise or induce key interests, aimed at evading regulatory compliance, frustrating the Ministerial directive for an independent Comprehensive Impact Assessment as a basis for adequate remediation and compensation,” the letter read in art.
The community also wanted the oil firm to refrain from efforts to waive NAOC’s environmental obligations to the people of Brass Kingdom by inserting obnoxius clauses into draft Memorandum of Understanding with the people.
According to the letter, the community ascertained during a visit to the Brass Canal in 2015 by Environmental and Legal experts that there is daily discharge of some 150,000 barrels of toxic waste consisting of untreated produce water and sludge.
The community said that on a cumulative basis the volume of toxic discharge to the Brass Canal amounts to 54.8 million barrels annually and approximately 2.6 billion barrels for the past 48 years.
They said that it was also ascertained that contaminant rate in the Brass Canal ranged from 200 per cent to 1,000 per cent above regulatory limits as well as soil, ground water and air quality pollution are also adversely affecting public health.
The community therefore urged Agip to in the interest of justice and amicable resolution to indicate interest to cooperate with the inter-agency regulatory team in the conduct of a credible assessment with equal representation by both parties.