Nigeria’s Qua Iboe Terminal Oil Spill: One too Many

12 Sep

 

Written  by

Esema Joseph Esema

 

 

Taking cognizance of the adverse effects, it is pathetic to note that since May 1 2010 when the Exxon Mobil Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT) oil spill in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria occurred, it has not been given much attention as the occasion required.

 

It is even more appalling that while our government appears from its indifferent response not to have noticed the effects of the spill, examples are being drawn from the region during the debates on the way out of the Gulf of Mexico spill in the United States. More enraging are the defiant statements that have been credited to the management of Exxon Mobil to the effect that the QIT oil spill is small when compared to any in the history of oil spill. This makes one wonder whether the small’ spill has no disastrous impact on the environment.

 

Needless to say, the QIT oil spill has affected the aquatic state of the waters and has brought untold hardship to the fishermen settlements close to the terminal, whose major source of livelihood lied in the polluted water.

The Nigerian government could borrow a leaf from the response of the American government over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, where the president’s interest has gone beyond official to personal, the Congress has commenced intensive investigation and the management of BP Oil America has in addition to their several apologies, taken giant strides towards restoring the earlier state of the affected waters.

 

It is important to note that if the QIT spill is not addressed promptly, it would extend to other coastal areas with the attendant troubles. Again it would encourage the trend where oil giants skirt safety rules since virtually no sanctions are applied.

 

It is submitted that efforts at cleansing the affected areas should be expedited. Firstly, the source of the spill should be plugged, then dispersants could be used to break up the oil on the water, in addition, Exxon Mobil should be made to pay compensation that is commensurate with the impact of their actions on the environment and on the disrupted business activities of those living in that area.

 

The Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provision etc) CAP H1 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004 could succinctly deal with the situation. However, the problem lies in the implementation as no specific agency has been established to prosecute crimes arising from the Act.

 

Considering the impact of these spills and the quick succession at which they have been occurring in recent times it might be necessary to evolve standards and regulations which the Ministry of Environment and other relevant agencies would apply in addressing oil spill cases when they arise.

 

Eseme writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State

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