Gas Flaring: ERA Raises Alarm Over Agip’s Operations In Bayelsa

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By Abiola Olawale

Environmental Rights Action (ERA) has raised alarm over the continuous flaring of gas by Agip facility — a Flow Station located in Ogboinbiri, a community in Apoi clan of Bayelsa State, adding that flaring of gas has become life-threatening to residents in the area.

According to ERA, air in Ogboinbiri community has turned foul as a result of gas flaring — burning of natural gases during oil production, over the years.

Following the pollution, ERA on Sunday released a report revealing the impact of the dangerous release on residents of the community.

The report revealed that over 250 toxins chemical compounds have been released into the atmosphere as a result of gas flaring in the community.

This was contained in the report titled: “Gas Flaring and Threat of Overflow at Agip’s Ogboinbiri Flow Station” released by Alagoa Morris, the Bayelsa State Coordinator of ERA.

The report also demanded that the Bayelsa State Government and the Federal Government take necessary steps to ensure the safety of the residents of Ogboinbiri community.

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The report by group suggested the provision of lands, school buildings, roads, farmlands, among others, as a means of compensating the locals for the environmental damages done to their community.

The report partly reads: “According to the Canadian Public Health Association, there have been over 250 identified toxins released from flaring including carcinogens such as benzopyrene, benzene, carbon disulphide, carbonyl sulphide and toluene; metals such as Mercury, arsenic and chromium, sour gas with H2S and SO2, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide; and methane which contributes to the greenhouse gases. Ogboinbiri community is subjected to all of these, in addition to oil spills polluting their river and swamps. The fact that oil companies are paying fines for the different volumes of gas flared daily in the country is derived from the 1984 law (Gas Re-Injected Act) which outlawed gas flaring; making the act illegal. It is on record that the Federal Government in reacting to pressure from stakeholders has shifted the goal post of ending gas flaring in Nigeria again and again.

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“At the expense of victims of the negative impacts, the Federal Government, 36 State governments, the Federal Capital Territory and 774 local governments in the country are sharing proceeds (fines) from the toxic flares in the oilfields. Apart from the threatening “Overflowing” occasioned by pressure, the observations made by the people of Ogboinbiri, who expressed themselves to ERA’s Alagoa Morris, are not different from environmental testimonies obtained from other communities in relation to gas flaring. These include the vibration of buildings and roofs, pollution of sources of drinking water, destruction of roofing sheets, poorer crop yield, health concerns, and roaring of the flares which causes panic sometimes e.t.c.”

Following the damage alleged to have been caused to the community by Agip, ERA has made demands and recommendations to include: that “Agip and the Bayelsa State Government take immediate steps to provide portable water for Ogboinbiri community.

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“The Federal and State Government initiate moves for an Environmental Audit or Post Impact Assessment, to be partly sponsored by Agip. There is need for this audit now that all three tiers of government and Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) are benefiting from the pains inflicted on this community by the sailing gas flares.

“Agip stop threatening the people of Ogboinbiri, stop the gas flaring in the environment or the Federal Government should acquire enough expanse of land within the community territory, take adequate census of the people, build befitting houses, and relocate the people(as it was done for the people of Finima in Bonny).

“Community leaders do not remain silent and mortgage the health of even children yet unborn. Gas flaring is illegal and, it is so because of the harmful, toxic chemical compounds or elements associated with gas flaring; apart from the economic waste of the finite resources.”

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