The Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology has lamented the recent oil spill in Ogoni community in Rivers State and accused the Ministry of Environment of frustrating oversight in the area.
The committee also accused National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Shell and oil companies of their indifference to the plight of host communities.
Consequently, the committee asked NOSDRA to take proactive steps and furnish it with necessary details on its preliminary findings on the cause of the latest spill, the volume of spill, process of clean up as well as action plan for the assessment of its impact on the affected areas and the livelihood of the community.
A statement yesterday by the chairman of the committee, Senator Bukola Saraki, which accused Shell as being responsible for this oil spill, also alleged that oil companies are insensitive to the general wellbeing of host communities.
Saraki, who further described the situation as disheartening, noted that cases of oil spill of that magnitude have been addressed in proposed amendment to NOSDRA Amendment Bill currently in the works.
"This recent oil spill in Ogoni fishing community of Bunu in Tai Local Government Area is one spill too many. And again, the time is high to revisit the United Nations Environment Programmme (UNEP) report especially the independent assessment report conducted on the environment and public health impacts of oil contamination in the Niger Delta region.
"Our committee strongly feels that the issue before us needs not be handled with kid gloves, findings must be implemented in record time to salvage what is left of the farmland and the general health of the community," the statement added.
Saraki further disclosed that in the wake of oil spill in this tenure, the committee had demanded from NOSDRA, the Ministry of Environment and oil companies an update on their activities and cases of oil spill as well as the steps being taken to combat these incessant oil spills.
He regretted that this recent spill around Shonghai farm in Rivers State from Shell has thrown the community into famine and other forms of economic crisis, noting that the volume of oil spillage is yet to be quantified. He also noted that till date, the committee is yet to be briefed on the incident.
â€¨"The frequency of these spills and increasing oil theft is becoming worrisome and the half-hearted approach of the agency, Ministry of Environment and the oil companies makes it difficult to carry out a thorough oversight function in the effective discharge of our duty," he lamented.