Nembe Spill: Ijaw Diaspora Council writes Aiteo CEO, demands relief for impacted communities

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The Ijaw Diaspora Council (IDC) has demanded immediate relief to communities impacted by ongoing oil and gas leaks from an oilfield operated by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company at Nembe in Bayelsa.

The IDC with headquarters in New Jersey sought immediate deployment of appropriate technology to plug the oil well blow-out which has been discharging an estimated 100,000 barrels of crude into the waters for the past two weeks.

The demand is contained in a letter dated November 15 and signed by Prof Monday Gold, President, , Dr Festus Odubo, Director of Community Outreach and Dr Brisibe Nabena, Director of Conflict Resolution of IDC.

The letter was addressed to Mr Benedict Peters, Chief Executive of Aiteo Group, an indigenous firm which operates Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 following the 2015 divestment of Shell from the asset.

They urged the oil firm to live up to its claim in the oil firm’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies and adopt best practices by providing a support fund of at least $500,000 to the impacted settlements.

The IDC stated that the expression: To encourage a positive impact,through our activities, on the environment, consumers, employees, communities and stakeholders.

“To behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life for our workforce and their families, as well as, of the local community and society as a whole…We are responsible stewards of the Earth.” needs to be put in practice.

The group noted that it was acting on information of its members, in particular, those from Nembe LGA extraction directly affected by the Aiteo spill.

According to the letter sighted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, the group made a seventh point demand which includes:

“Aiteo must promptly plug the blowout, as required by Nigerian law, and retain the failed Christmas Tree structure atop the wellhead for future independent analysis to ascertain the source of the failure.

“Aiteo must immediately deploy sufficient oil spill containment and cleanup equipment and personnel to contain and collect as much of the spilled hydrocarbon pollutant as possible, as required by Nigeria law, and hire as many local community members as possible.

“This is clearly a Tier III oil spill (the largest category), and Aiteo should contract with local and international experts such as Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) in Southampton UK or other experts to conduct a large-scale Tier III spill response.

“Aiteo must provide immediate, interim response funding directed by Aiteo to the affected Ijaw people of at least $500,000 USD, to be used by the affected people to support their initial sustenance in response to the spill.

“This initial funding will in no way prejudice future claims for compensation for the spill and will allow local Ijaw people to purchase alternative food resources during the spill.

“Contaminated fish from the spill area cannot be consumed; purchase Personal Protective Equipment. This Response fund is not to be directed to IDC but to the affected communities,” the letter read in part..

The group further requested that Aiteo should support and cooperate with IDC’s technical advisor to join the official Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

The urged Aiteo to immediately commission an independent, scientific, environmental damage assessment by a credible, independent scientific institution.

“Aiteo must preserve all evidence, including documents, video and photographs, and actual equipment (in particular, the failed Christmas Tree structure) that may be relevant to determining the cause of the wellhead failure and spill.

“Aiteo must provide the community with all records pertaining to this well.

“It should include the well’s design and installation, any/all inspection and maintenance the company has performed on the well,” the group said.

It was however learnt that the oil firm had at the weekend donated four truck loads of relief materials which included food items like rice,garrison ,yam, beans, plantain, bottled water and other sundry items for the medical facilities in the area.

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