.Appeals to Delta govt, FG to intervene
By Dallas Onyema
Koko community in Delta State, Nigeria, risks extinction, as Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) raises alarm over dumping of another toxic waste by a foreign firm in the area.
It would be recalled that a similar thing happened in the community in 1987, when Italian businessmen, Gianfranco Raffaeli and Renato Pent, of the Waste Broker firms Ecomar and Jelly Wax, respectively, signed an illegal agreement with an unsuspecting Nigerian businessman, Sunday Nana, to use his property for storage of 18,000 drums of hazardous waste for approximately $100 a month.
But while addressing journalists in Lagos on Wednesday, the Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, appealed to the Delta State government and the federal agency - National Environmental Standard & Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) - to immediately set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the recent dumping of toxic waste in Koko town in Warri North Local Government Area, Delta State.
In his address, titled, “Stop Dumping Toxic Wastes in Koko,” Ojo warned that the persistent ecological onslaught on the people of the Niger Delta being perpetrated by corporations and their Nigerian collaborators has led to massive pollution of water bodies and soil contamination.
His words: “It may shock you all to know that nearly 30 years after the sad incident we mentioned, ERA/FoEN and locals have again confirmed new wastes dump in vessels owned by Ebenco Global Link Limited as hazardous. Ebenco is into waste management and recycling and operating in the Koko since 2007 or thereabout and known for emptying sludge and similar wastes into the Koko river or simply burying them.
“The waste substances are said to be from an international oil company which is in a Joint Venture (JV) with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).”
Ojo listed some of the dangerous chemicals dumped in Koko by the foreign firm to include poly nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), Oil and grease, Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) and BETEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethyl benzene and Xylene) and some heavy metals with values higher than acceptable levels of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
“Not only is ERA/FoEN disturbed by this trend, we are also very alarmed about the Nigerian government seemingly incentivisation of waste imports and dumping in the country due to lowering environmental standards, and the lack of compliance of extant environmental laws,” he said.
Ojo said that the solution to the indiscriminate and illegal dumping of hazardous wastes like in the case of Ebenco Global Link Limited and more importantly in keeping with the spirit and letter of Section 20 of the 1999 Constitution for the protection of air, water, soil, his outfit demands:
• That the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) live up to its responsibility of protection of the environment and enforcing compliance with all environmental laws both in Nigeria as well as international agreements, protocols and treaties on the environment to which Nigeria is a signatory.
• Delta state Ministry of Environment and the federal Ministry of Environment should also step in to collaborate for a proper Commission of Enquiry to unravel the persistence of toxic waste dumping in Koko.
• That Ebenco Global Link Limited be compelled to clean up its mess in Koko and evacuate its hazardous wastes, including those allegedly surreptitiously buried in large quantities
• That Ebenco should pay specified penalties and fines as well as compensation to victims/ community people whose land have been contaminated.
We stand in solidarity with the people of Koko and concerned environmental advocacy groups in challenging the human rights abuses and impunity being perpetrated by the company. “This environmental onslaught at the behest of the company that has led to the divide and rule of the people in Koko must stop now.
“The environment is our life, it is not for sale,” he said.