Brass Community Accuses Agip of Toxic Pollution, Demands Clean-Up of Brass Canal – By Chukwudi Ejimofor

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Polluted Canal

The Brass Community in Bayelsa state has demanded the remediation on the environmental and economic damages to the Brass Canal by the Brass Crude Export Terminal for the past 48 years.  

The demand was contained in a letter to the Managing Director of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), by a law firm Ntephe, Smith and Wills for the Brass settlement dated May 25, 2020. 

NAOC, an affiliate of Italian Energy firm Eni operates the offshore oil terminal along with some onshore oil block in the swamps of Bayelsa in addition to Joint Venture stakes in other fields operated by Shell in Bayelsa. 

According to the letter, made available to journalists in Yenagoa on Wednesday, the remediation of the Brass Canal is overdue and being delayed by the oil firm. 

The community recalled that despite a subsisting regulatory directive to conduct a Comprehensive Impact Assessment (CIA) to determine the effect of the facility and proffer remedy and compensation, the oil firm has been foot dragging.

According to the letter, the oil firm has also delayed the implementation of a joint inter-agency site visit to resolve the issue and commence remediation of the impacted areas. 

“In furtherance of the human security, economic and environmental interests of your hosts, Brass Kingdom, touching also on Nigeria’s national interests and Bayelsa state’s strategic interest, we remind you about the overdue obligation on the Brass Canal viz. 

“Proper remediation of ecological damage caused by continuous discharge of toxic wastes at your Brass Terminal everyday for the past 48 years; 

“Adequate compensation based on impartial impact assessment, a restoration and pollution prevention plan as per best practices.

“We put you on notice to stop desperate attempts by your officers to compromise or induce key interests, aimed at evading regulatory compliance, frustrating the Ministerial directive for an independent Comprehensive Impact Assessment as a basis for adequate remediation and compensation,” the letter read in art.” 

The Community also wanted the oil firm to refrain from efforts to waive NAOC’s environmental obligations to the people of Brass Kingdom by inserting obnoxious clauses into draft Memorandum of Understanding with the people.

According to the letter, the community ascertained during a visit to the Brass Canal in 2015 by environmental and legal experts that daily discharge of some 150,000 barrels of toxic waste consisting of untreated produce water and sludge. 

The community said that on a cumulative basis the volume of toxic discharge to the Brass Canal amounts to 54.8 million barrels annually and approximately 2.6 billion barrels for the past 48 years. 

They said that it was also ascertained that contaminant rate in the Brass Canal ranged from 200 per cent to 1000 per cent above regulatory limits as well as soil; ground water and air quality pollution are also adversely affecting public health. 

The community, therefore, urged Agip to in the interest of justice and amicable resolution indicate interest to cooperate with the inter-agency regulatory team in the conduct of a credible assessment with equal representation by both parties. 

However, when contacted for comments, Eni, the parent company of NAOC declined comments. 

But Cionni Marilia, Media Relations Manager in charge of Sub-Saharan Africa, pledged to look into the matter and revert, but did not do  so that at press time.     

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