From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Chairman, Gokana Council of Traditional Rulers, Rivers State, Mene Michael Tekuru Porobunu, has raised alarm over the dumping of evacuated toxic wastes in some communities in the on going Bodo creeks clean-up being handled by a multinational oil company.
He alleged during a visit to the affected site at Sugi community, Patrick Waterside in Bodo, Gokana LGA, that the handlers of the clean up took advantage of his property as a dumpsite for the generated wastes from the clean up without any due consultation with him.
The monarch, who is also the head of Gberezorkpa dynasty in Bodo, described the actions of the handlers of the clean up project as “gross insensitivity and apparent disregard” for him as the owner of the property: “The wastes did not only constitute serious health threats and hazards to my family and the entire Sugi community, but has amounted to economic sabotage, as it is now totally impossible for me to cultivate on the affected land because of the toxic contamination of the soil.
“The actions have worsened the ecological devastation and contamination of the affected land and destruction of the natural water bodies.” The royal father pointed out that the destructions in the area were as a result of equipment failure and pipeline explosion from Shell facilities in 2008 and 2009, which necessitated the Bodo creeks clean up by Shell:
“I want to draw the attention of Shell to the contamination of my land through the dumping of toxic waste materials on it. It is unfortunate that despite the damages already caused on my property and the entire Sugi community as a result of equipment failure and pipeline explosion, there is still a calculated attempt to further devastate the land through the dumping of toxic waste materials on it.
“I want to call on whoever that is responsible for the dumping of the toxic materials to stop forthwith their illicit actions, while the wastes should be removed.
“It is wrong and totally unacceptable that all the toxic wastes from the clean up processes by the company are dumped on my property, and this is depriving me of the rights to cultivate the land, causing me enormous economic losses.
“I want Shell or whoever is involved to initiate the process of cleaning up the toxic waste materials and the contamination that has occurred in the ground.” The monarch disclosed that he has informed the police and other relevant authorities to commence investigations on the matter.
He said he would be left with no option than to seek legal redress if the wastes are not removed and the land cleaned by whoever might be responsible for the dumping. He cautioned against indiscriminate activities on the part of companies involved in the Bodo creeks clean up project.
He stated that standards should be adhered to in the remediation of impacted areas.
Daily Sun’s visit to the area revealed the depth of damages and diminishing beauty of the once sprawling island and scenic attraction that served the craving of fun seekers and adventurers, as well as providing economic benefits for the owner.
Shell’s spokesperson, Michael Adande, reacted this way: “SPDC did not deposit any toxic waste anywhere in Gokana Local Government area nor anywhere else. The allegation is already being investigated by the police.”