Nigeria needs $12 billion to carry out the cleanup of oil spills in Bayelsa State, South-south Nigeria, a new report by the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission has said.
The report identified two oil giants – Shell Petroleum Development Company and Eni as being responsible for the major pollution in the state.
According to the report, which was released on Tuesday, the cleanup exercise would last over 12 years.
The findings were contained in a report from the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission, which had 2019 begun an investigation on the impact of oil spills in the state, Reuters reported.
The commission, in its investigation, examined evidence from company data and forensic scientists as well as blood samples from people living in the affected areas.
Findings revealed that toxic pollutants from oil spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, air, water, and in the blood of local residents amongst others.
“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response, and remediation by oil companies,” the commission said.
Reuters reported that the spokesperson for Shell declined to comment but that of Eni blamed the oil spills on theft aimed at feeding illegal refineries, illegal export, and sabotage, adding that the company undertook to remedy all spills.
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“Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis,” the spokesperson told Reuters.
The oil-rich Niger Delta states particularly Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, and Bayelsa have suffered years of oil spillage, which have destroyed farmlands and aquatic life in the area.
In the neighbouring Rivers State, the federal government had in 2016 launched the cleanup of the heavily polluted Ogoni land, five years after the United Nations Environmental Programme made the recommendation in its 2011 report.
The project has suffered years of delay, which the Minister for Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, last year blamed on some civil society organizations as well as some individuals in the state of instituting “unnecessary litigations” to stall the implementation of the project.
But the Federal Executive Council, seven days ago, approved the sum of N129.8 billion for the cleanup among other projects for the Niger Delta Ministry, Punch newspaper reported.