Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has taken proactive measures to clean up Ogoni land in response to recommendation of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) calling for action for remediation of the environment.
It would be recalled that the federal government in July 2006, requested the UNEP to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the environmental and public health impacts of oil contamination in Ogoniland, Rivers State, together with options for remediation.
The findings in the report, however, underline that there are, in a significant number of locations, serious threats to human health from contaminated drinking water to concerns over the viability and productivity of ecosystems.
The report further uncovered that in addition that pollution has perhaps gone further and penetrated deeper than many may have previously supposed.
Briefing the media on efforts so far made by the company, Igo Weli, external relations manager of the SPDC, expressed deep worries that if concerted effort is not carried out by government to prop up security around critical oil infrastructures, the entire exercise may not achieve its desired result.
Weli said security should be considered an overriding reflection as he observed that while efforts had been on to remedy the situation some unwholesome activities are still ongoing.
He elucidated that as a responsible corporate organization, the company has exerted energy to respond to recommendation of the UNEP despite that overall action ought to be driven by government.
Weli for instance noted that issue of security is exclusive of government but the company notwithstanding threats and challenges from community people wanting to deny them access to site; it has continued to mobilize support and commitment to go on.
For purpose of clarity, the manager noted that the UNEP report identified twenty-two areas attention to SPDC, fifty to federal government and four to Ogoni people.
So far he said, the company has successfully addressed sixteen while rest is ongoing but also required collaborative effort to deal with in line with the report.
According to him,16 actions have been completed, 5 actions are currently ongoing, e.g. Relocation of Right of Way (RoW) encroachers; Decommissioning plan, 470 incidents documented along SPDC RoW in Ogoni, 368 remediated,32 at various stages 70 outstanding.
Weli also said, SPDC Joint Venture (JV) has funded a regional water supply project at Eleme which currently provide access to potable water for about 30,000 indigenes across five clans from one hundred and three outlets and project is being expanded by Rivers state government to include more outlets.
He also assured that the company’s contribution to the $1billion remediation fund would be made when the required governance structure is put in place.
In the area of healthcare, he said Primary healthcare outreach to the communities through SPDC’s Health-In-Motion program is currently ongoing.
So far, the company has executed alternative livelihood programme (LiveWIRE) for 105 Ogoni Youths and provided them with start-up grants to the trainees most of whom have started businesses.
It has also championed grassroots environmental campaign in partnership with SMEnv, NOSDRA, and Local NGOs.to deepen awareness on ills of illegal bunkering and oil theff and has held twelve town-hall sessions held across the four LGAs yearly.
He advised government to redouble efforts toward stopping sources of contamination, oil theft and illegal refining as those activities are major causes of the problem.
Earlier, Sola Abulu, shed light on the report stressing that as erroneously held by some people that the UNEP report was not directed to Shell alone and that other stakeholder action is required to execute the remediation program.
Abulu said it has become essential to provide insight to the report and to educate people that Shell is not singled out in the recommendation just that a fraction of action is directed to the company.