Foundation trains oil communities on environmental monitoring
NNN: Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), an environmental rights group, says it trained no fewer than 60 residents of oil bearing communities in Bayelsa.
Addressing some volunteers during training in Ikarama Community, Yenagoa Local Government Area (LGA), Dr Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of HOMEF said that a safe environment was fundamental to support lives and livelihoods.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) started operations in Ikarama community in 1964.
He said there was the need for people, who resided near oil and gas fields, to remain vigilant in conserving the environment.
Bassey advised that they should also ensure that the economic interests of investors did not threaten the environment.
He said there was the need to raise volunteers who would defend the ecosystem from degradation and pollution.
The Executive Director said that Ikarama community was the worst hit and most impacted when it comes to oil spill in the Niger Delta region.
According to him, available data indicate that the area records the most frequent oil spills from the operations of Shell and Agip.
He advised them to develop their skills and capacity to ‘listen to the environment’ as it responded and spoke by responding to human activities that distort the ecosystem.
The session had a site inspection of oil spill impacted sites.
The volunteers found out that a youth leader from the community wanted to use his farm for fish farming but discovered that oil was oozing out from the ground.
“A community youth invested resources to excavate his farm for fish farm only to find out that oil was coming out from the ground.
“He did this last year and this year, it is shocking that the exposure of this level of pollution has not driven the polluters to action immediately.
“We heard Shell has come here to take samples up till now, we have not heard that the result has been released. We want to be sure that the result should be released as soon as they are ready.
“The Ministry of Environment, the NOSDRA and those from Federal Ministry should be involved too.
“We are having contamination not just in this location here, it is very important to test soil across the community because we are having oil facilities traversing Ikarama community and other Niger Delta communities,” Bassey said.
He recommended clean up of oil impacted areas as the people had been affected badly in oil spill cases in the Niger Delta region.
Also, Mr Alagoa Morris, an environmentalist, said monitoring the environment demanded factual and evidence-based data collection, recording and reporting.
He called on Shell and other oil companies to be proactive when such happened for the safety of the rural dwellers, and the aquatic lives that the people depended on.
Mr Benjamin Enebiri, the owner of the fish farm where oil was coming from the ground, expressed sadness over the situation, calling on Shell to remediate his land.
He said he invested over N600,000 to hire an excavator to dig the pond, regretting that all has become a waste of resources for him and his family.
He called on Shell and other oil firms to always consider the needs of the rural people by providing them a standard hospital, because the people were dying from various ailments caused by oil exploration.
NAN reports that the interactive segment of the training had the volunteers from the community share experiences on the adverse impacts of oil and gas exploration on their environments.
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