The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) says it is cooperating with the Senate over a petition by some Niger Delta communities alleging dead fishes on the Niger Delta coastline.
The Senate had received a petition from coastline fishing communities on the issue and invited Shell, regulators and community leaders to appear before its committee on public petitions but Shell did not appear.
Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, the Media Relations Manager at SPDC told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State that the oil firm received the invitation by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
According to him, SPDC is in receipt of the invitation and is responding to the ongoing fact-finding exercise by the Senate.
“We received the invitation of the Senate Committee and responded with necessary clarification and with information as well as our position on the subject matter that the distinguished senators are looking into.
“The engagement with the distinguished senators is an ongoing one and we are always available to support the Senate in its investigations.
“You may recall that the findings of a multi-agencies of the Federal Government on the subject concluded that the death of tonnes of fishes along the Atlantic Ocean coastline in Nigeria was caused by the discharge of toxic waste into the ocean.
“The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), which announced the findings, said that the high toxicity of the dead fishes and water samples was caused by pollution from heavy metals from industrial and domestic wastes discharged from domestic and industrial sources on land,” Odugbesan said
Residents along the Atlantic coastline in Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states had reported massive death of croaker fish species since February, raising concerns of increased toxicity of the territorial waters.
Mr Furoebi Akene, spokesman of the affected areas told NAN on Tuesday in Yenagoa that the Senate’s intervention followed a petition by the communities.
He said that the 13-member committee headed by Sen. Ayo Akinyelure invited the parties to appear before it on July 2.
“We were invited by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to appear before it on July 2, 2020 to defend the petitions submitted to it by our people.
“The petition is concerning the dead fish issue along the Atlantic ocean shoreline, which we did alongside 10 copies of written statements we submitted to the committee.
“Shell Petroleum Development did not appear giving the excuse of the lockdown, while the Director-General of NOSDRA and his team appeared.
“After hearing from the petitioners, their team of experts, and the D-G of NOSDRA, the committee adjourned to reconvene on July 14, 2020 with a clear instruction for SPDC to appear that day,” Akene said.
The development compelled NOSDRA to investigate the cause of the incident.
Mr Idris Musa, NOSDRA’s D-G, had said that investigations found that the cause of the dead fishes was due to discharge of toxic materials into the water bodies and not crude discharge.
Also, the communities alleged that SPDC had alleged that the oil firm had discharged toxic wastes from the Forcados Export Terminal.
The SPDC’s Media Relations Manager had in a response statement to NAN on May 4, denied that the oil firm discharged toxic waste into the Atlantic Ocean.
By Nathan Nwakamma