…wants urgent crisis intervention remedial action
…alternative sources of income for over 40 communities affected
By Gabriel Ewepu, ABUJA
A socio-cultural organisation based in the United States of America, USA, Ijaw Diaspora Council, IDC, Friday, wrote the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, demanding an independent investigation of OML29 Oil well spillage in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The letter was signed by the Vice President Europe & Director of Humanitarian and Disaster Affairs, IDC, Dr Antonia Garner, where the letter asserted that OML29 Spill has also been adjudged one of the largest and most devastating oil spills in world history, with far-reaching ecological challenges on the economic health and well-being of the impacted areas and people, spanning from Nembe and its connecting creeks down to the Atlantic Ocean.
According to the letter, OML29 is operated by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company, with 51 per cent of its equity owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The letter reads in part, “Our attention has also been drawn to the cause of the spill by the Bayelsa State Government and the community, who attributed the cause of the spill to equipment failure.
“However, we await the official position of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), which is the agency saddled with the mandate to detect, monitor, and manage oil spills in Nigeria, to the effect that an evidence-based investigation is embarked upon to ascertain the cause of the Spill and its volume.
“The Ijaw Diaspora Council’s Technical Advisor, Rick Steiner, estimates that with 1-2 cubic feet of discharge/second, the blowout which lasted for 38 days would have released a total of 532,000 barrels – 1,064,000 barrels of oil/gas into the sensitive marine ecosystem of Nembe and the over 40 communities that have been directly impacted by the spill.
“In the light of the above, the Ijaw Diaspora Council (IDC), as a matter of urgency, is formally requesting the following: An official confirmation that the failed wellhead has been preserved for independent engineering forensic analysis to determine the cause of the failure, in accordance with the advice given by the IDC’s Technical Advisor, Professor Rick Steiner on December 8, 2021, the same day the OML 29 blowout was killed.
“The preservation of the wellhead as evidence, in standard criminal evidentiary procedures, to prevent any further alteration or adulteration, and for submission to independent assessors, in accordance with the advice given by the IDC’s Technical Advisor on the date on which the failed well was killed.
“A full, independent investigation commissioned by the Nigerian Federal Government, as to the causes and consequences of the oil spill disaster, including an engineering analysis of the cause of equipment failure carried out by an independent organization (e.g., the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and/or Det Norsk Veritas (DNV) in Norway, at the official request of the Federal Government of Nigeria and Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company, as a matter of urgency, and that this independent investigation involve our technical advisor, Rick Steiner.”
Meanwhile, the letter demanded an urgent crisis intervention remedial action and a long-term intervention plan for the indigenes to ameliorate the long-term consequences the spill imposed on the economy and health of the Ijaw people.
“Aiteo’s lethargic response time exacerbated the catastrophic damage that the failed oil and gas wellhead caused to the physical, economic, psychological, and general welfare of the affected communities, plunging them into an immediate humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.
“Failure to treat this as a national emergency with global repercussions would be akin to the commission of crimes against humanity under the Human Rights Act and other applicable laws and treaties.
“The immediate provision of alternative sources of income, necessitated by the loss of sources of livelihood in the over 40 indigenous Ijaw communities which were directly impacted by the OML 29 oil and gas blowout.
“The immediate provision of alternative sources of income should span the projected amount of time, potentially decades that it would take for all the affected communities to economically recover from this extremely calamitous disaster that has befallen Nigeria”, it added.