LINKAGES BETWEEN OGONI CLEAN-UP AND ARTISANAL REFINING
A PRESENTATION ON “LINKAGES BETWEEN OGONI CLEAN-UP AND ARTISANAL REFINING” BY FYNEFACE DUMNAMENE FYNEFACE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, YOUTHS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY CENTRE (YEAC) DURING A VIRTUAL “MEDIA BRIEFING ON COMMUNITY CONCERNS IN THE OGONI CLEAN-UP PROCESS” ORGANIZED BY KABETKACHE WOMEN DEVELOPMENT AND RESOURCE CENTRE WITH SUPPORT FROM CORDAID HELD ON MONDAY, JUNE 15, 2020.
INTRODUCTION/SUMMARY OF PRESENTATION
Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (simply called YEAC or ADVOCACY CENTRE) believes and agrees that there are links between artisanal refineries and the pollution of Ogoni environment. Thus, this paper examines the linkages between Ogoni Clean-Up and Artisanal Refineries as one of the community concerns in the Ogoni Clean-Up process. The paper traces and summarizes the sources of pollution in Ogoniland and the role played by the activities of illegal refineries as recorded by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in the scientific and empirical report of the environmental assessment of Ogoni published on August 4, 2011. This presentation goes further to take a cursory look at the ongoing implementation of the UNEP Report by Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) from flag-off on June 2, 2016 to June 12, 2020, four years down the line. The presentation highlights other steps being taken by ADVOCACY CENTRE on Modular Refineries in line with Federal Government directives to address concerns around artisanal refineries and concludes with call to action and recommendations for HYPREP on artisanal refineries on the Ogoni Clean-Up Process.
THE CONCERNS ABOUT ARTISANAL REFINING
The environmental assessment of Ogoniland by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) ended on August 4, 2011 with the publication of the UNEP Report on Ogoniland. In the 2011 report, UNEP identified artisanal crude oil refineries operated in Ogoniland as some of the sources of environmental pollution. On page nine (9), in the Executive Summary section of the report, UNEP wrote that “During aerial reconnaissance missions, UNEP experts observed oil pollution which was not readily visible from the ground, including artisanal refining sites”. UNEP went further on Pages 101-104 and 161-165 to give further details of its observations and the contributions of artisanal refining to the environmental pollution in Ogoniland. A copy of the UNEP is downloadable here https://bit.ly/YEACUNEPReport. Thus, these findings confirmed our agreement that there is a linkage between artisanal refining and the Ogoni Clean-Up Process.
PROPOSED SOLUTIONS TO CONCERNS ABOUT ARTISANAL REFINING
UNEP mentioned campaigns against artisanal refining as number eight on the emergency measures’ list on page 13 of the report when it said “Mount a public awareness campaign to warn those individuals who are undertaking artisanal refining that such activity are damaging their health”. The report went further on the same page 13 under its “Operational Recommendations” to say, for the achievement of effective Clean-Up of Ogoniland, that “All sources of ongoing contamination, including the artisanal refining which is currently ongoing in the creeks, must be brought to a swift end before the Clean-Up of the creeks, sediments and mangroves can begin” and that “A campaign in Ogoniland to end illegal oil related activities should be jointly conducted by the government, oil companies and local authorities. It should include an awareness component highlighting the disproportionate environmental footprint of artisanal refining (borne by all sections of the community) and spell out training, employment and livelihood incentives that will encourage people away from participating in this illegal activity”. On Page 204, UNEP repeated with more details, the call it made on page 13 for the prevention of illegal oil activities in Ogoniland and on Page 227 recommended and budgeted $1,012,488,640 (summarized and popularized as $1billion). Out of this amount, UNEP budgeted that “$99,452,700” of this amount should be spent on “Restoration of Artisanal refining sites” while “$10,000,000” should be spent on “Alternative Employment to those in artisanal refining”.
In its summary of recommendations on Page 12, UNEP said “The study concludes that the environmental restoration of Ogoniland is possible but may take 25 to 30 years”. However, four years down the line, a cursory look at the ongoing implementation of the report has shown that issues liking the Ogoni Clean-Up with artisanal refineries have not been addressed. In our Statement at Advocacy Centre titled “OGONI CLEAN-UP: FOUR YEARS AFTER FLAG-OFF; HYPREP NEEDS MORE 22 YEARS TO COMPLETE FIRST FIVE YEARS’ WORK” released on June 2, 2020 to mark the 4th anniversary of the commencement of Ogoni Clean-Up on June 2, 2016, we analyzed the project implementation so far and how it could take more 22years before HYPREP completes the first five year’s activities despite the availability of funds.
We noted that out of the $1billion for the first five years of Ogoni Clean-Up, HYPREP had received $360million and out of which, HYPREP said it has spent just about $44million in the past four years. Thus, if HYPREP said it has spent only about $44million in the past four years out of the $360million it has so far received then, it would take HYPREP till 2042; about extra 22 years more of spending $44million every four years before it would be able to exhaust the remaining $956million and complete the first phase of Clean-Up that UNEP
We which to inform that, in addition to the solution proffered by UNEP for HYPREP to address concerns about artisanal refinery issues in the Clean-Up process, ADVOCACY CENTRE had since 2017 been training the youths on alternative means of livelihoods and on December 10, 2019 started the registration and creation of database of artisanal refiners in Ogoniland and other parts of the Niger Delta. They register through free forms currently circulating in the affected areas and on database by text “YEAC Full name, sex, age, form serial number, name of community, LGA and State of Residence to 33811” through which we are setting up Corporative Societies for them to benefit from Modular Refinery licenses of the Federal Government as alternative means of livelihoods. Our objectives include achieving environmental sustainability in the Niger Delta by stopping artisanal refineries through Modular Refineries and mainstreaming renewable energy, fish farming, rice farming, Bio-toilet technology, cinematography, etc. as other alternative means of employment and livelihoods for youths involved in artisanal refineries. For details about our advocacy on artisanal refineries so far, kindly follow this link https://bit.ly/YEAC_Kpofire.
OUR CALL TO ACTION ON HYPREP CONCERNING ARTISANAL REFINERIES
It is against these backgrounds that we call on HYPREP and recommend that;
a. HYPREP addresses issues around artisanal refineries as recommended and budgeted for, by UNEP as part of ways to address concerns about the Ogoni Clean-Up process in order to end and stop re-pollution.
b. HYPREP should create alternative employment for youths involved in artisanal refining activities as also recommended by UNEP. These HYPREP can do by;
(i) HYPREP supports ongoing efforts as already requested on them for the sensitization of the youths, registration of Cooperative Societies and acquisition of Modular Refinery licenses for artisanal refiners in Ogoni;
(ii) HYPREP should send some Ogoni artisanal refiners for training and skills acquisition preparatory for employability under the NLNG Train 7 Project in Bonny for which other Niger Delta youths are undertaking and for which the request had already been made by some artisanal refiners to HYPREP;
ADVOCACY CENTRE welcomes the proposed restructuring of HYPREP as proposed by the Federal Government. We expect the restructuring to make the Project more responsive so that issues involving and linking artisanal refining to the project can be addressed using the funds that had been provided for these purposes to end re-pollution in Ogoniland.
FYNEACE DUMNAMENE FYNEFACE,
Environmental Justice Activist, Human Rights Defender and
Executive Director, ADVOCACY CENTRE