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HOMEF, PAC, Oilwatch Nigeria Task NOSDRA on Cleanup of Eteo Community Spillage


By Edu Abade

Groups of environmental activists comprising the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Peoples Advancement Centre (PAC) and Oilwatch Nigeria have urged the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and other relevant agencies to immediately cleanup the oil spillage at Eteo Community in Eleme Council of Rivers State.

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 Lamenting that there is no attempt to remediate the Eteo spill for over two months after its occurrence, the groups stated that the Niger Delta remains one of the most polluted environment in the world due to the recurring oil spills which have continued regularly in several locations in the region.

 They added that in June 2023, two oil spills ravaged Aleto and Eteo communities in Eleme Local Government of Rivers State, which crippled farming and fishing activities in the entire area.
Following the spills, HOMEF and members of Oilwatch Nigeria visited the two scenes on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 for an on-the-spot assessment to ascertain the level of response and cleanup of the affected environment, but met the environment still in a sorry situation.

 “While some amount of work was ongoing at Aleto, no response was in sight for the Eteo community. Members of the community complained that no Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) has been done by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) to ascertain the cause and extent of damage done to the environment. At Aleto where a JIV was carried out, community people expressed concerns that the report has not been released.

Speaking on site, Executive Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, who expressed displeasure that the oil companies are neither decommissioning their obsolete infrastructure nor ensuring that their facilities are in good working condition, lamented that rather than remediating the harm caused by their activities, more investments are being made by the oil companies to expand the areas of threat.
Bassey further stated that it is regrettable that two months after the spill occurred, the companies have yet to respond and interface with the communities in any meaningful way.

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 “It was heartbreaking listening to the lamentation of the community women who now have no source of potable water and cannot process their cassava, a major staple due to the pollution of their stream. The insensitivity of the polluters and regulatory agencies is appalling.

 “These atrocious incidents are also compounding the work of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP). While the agency is working to clean up some areas, the incidents of pollution are threatening to erase their efforts,” he said.
During the visits, Coordinator of and member Oilwatch Nigeria, Celestine Akpobari, charged NOSDRA and other relevant agencies of government to do the needful and send relief materials to the starving people immediately.

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 “It is sad and very embarrassing that a spill of the magnitude at Eteo would happen in very close proximity to human habitation and NPDC and the government of Nigeria carry on as if nothing has happened to the people. It is worse that the spill has affected the community’s only source of drinking water.  It is not enough to just sneak in at night to cap clamp the pipe, the right thing must be done.”

While receiving the team of CSOs who visited his palace, Paramount Ruler of Eteo Community, HRH Emere Emmanuel T. Akobe, expressed shock over the attitude of the NPDC saying: “Our beautiful stream is dead, My people don’t deserve this type of treatment and after we have brought the notice of the National Assembly, there is still no response from them, and my people continue to suffer the impact of the spill.”
Community youth, Gift Nwagbalor, who was directly affected, lamented that the community had made several attempts to get the attention of NOSDRA to the spill site with a series of letters written demanding for the JIV to be done.  Sadly, there has been no response from the regulatory agency. “Our women can no longer get the periwinkles that they used to pick for their businesses again and the youths cannot fish in the contaminated stream and ponds.”
A visit to the spill site confirmed his submission. While wading through the polluted stream and examining highly contaminated ponds in the vicinity, community leaders noted that NPDC clamped the leaking pipe at night soon after the spill was reported but has not returned to clean up the environment.
HOMEF restates that Aleto and Eteo communities and the entire Niger Delta must not be treated like disposable or sacrifice zones for profit-seeking endeavors. NOSDRA should be more proactive in meeting the challenging situations of oil spills in the region, while the polluting companies should urgently halt their polluting activities, clean up their spills, and pay compensation to affected individuals and communities.

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The groups also demanded that oil companies decommission all aged pipelines and facilities in the region in line with UNEP recommendations in the assessment of the Ogoni environment.

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Joshua Okoria

Joshua Okoria is a Lagos based multi-skilled journalist covering the maritime industry. His ICT and graphic design skills makes him a resourceful person in any modern newsroom. He read mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University and has sharpened his knowledge in media practice from several other short courses. 07030562600, hubitokoria@gmail.com

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