The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) says it has uncovered what could be a toxic waste dump site operated by an oil major in Kdere, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
ERA/FoEN in a statement made available to EnviroNews on Tuesday, October 5, 2021, stated that a team of its Environmental Field Monitors visited Lot 13 and Lot 14 on September 28, 2021, and unearthed what looks like a toxic waste dump site in Kdere community.
According to the statement signed by Barrister Mike Karikpo, the Programme Director of the ERA/FoEN, some workers of Centennial Development and Investment Limited, the contractor assigned to cleanup and remediate Lot 13, phase 1 batch 1 of the HYPREP delineated cleanup sites, had also complained of a powerful stench oozing from the Lot.
ERA/FoEN disclosed that its field monitors noticed coloured creamy substances in the soil within the excavated pit. ERA further stated that an environmental scientist in the team disclosed that the stench and the colour of the groundwater in the pit are telltale signs that the site could be a toxic waste dump site.
The excavated area has been cordoned off but despite the possible health and safety implications of working in such deleterious environment as work was still ongoing at the different sections of the site and many of the workers did not have the benefit of protective face masks or other protective gear needed for such harmful site work.
“No one knows when the toxic substance excavated by this cleanup contractor was buried there but fingers are pointing inexorably to Shell as the architect of the heinous crime,” the group said in the statement.
ERA/FoEN recalled that, in 2018, similar substances with heavily offensive odours were discovered at oil well No. 39 in Kidere Community, and subsequent laboratory analysis confirmed that the substances were toxic wastes buried there.
Lamenting the situation, Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, condemned Shell’s frequent acts of secret cocktails of toxic chemicals with repugnant smell dumped in Ogoni. He said this is a major source of soil contamination and water pollution with serious health hazards, and community folks “die off in instalments owing to no fault of theirs”.
He stated: “What is playing out in the Ogoniland cleanup in the uncovering of secret toxic waste dump sites is the lack of transparency and accountability of oil transnational companies’ faulty cleanup operations throughout the Niger Delta that have destroyed the environment, reduced livelihoods potential and impoverishment of the people.”
To this end, Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo called for the “immediate investigation by relevant agencies especially NOSDRA of the alleged waste dump by Shell to ascertain the level of toxicity and harm to the people, environment, livelihoods and provide appropriate remediation.”
He added: “The federal government should urgently declare ecological emergency in the Niger Delta to address the decades of ecological disaster in the region.”
Karikpo said: “Proper evacuation of the hidden cargo of toxic materials from Lot 13 should be conducted by experts and in a transparent manner and involving the relevant government agencies, impacted communities and civil society that are interested in tracking the movement of this likely cargo of death.”