HYPREP Cautions Illegal Refiners On Ogoni Clean – Up

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The Project  Coodinator of the  Hydrocarbon  Pollution Remediation Project    (HYPREP),  Dr. Marvin Dekil has raised alarm over the  activities of illegal artisanal  refineries in the area.
Dekil who briefed  State House  correspondents in Abuja on the activities  of the HYPREP in  Ogoniland ,  last Friday said the  activities of  the illegal and artisanal oil  refiners had constituted a source of worry  to the  Ogoni clean-up project.
Nigeria’s oil producing  states,  especially  Ogoni-land are dotted  with illegal  artisanal  oil refineries with attendant  economic,  environmental and  social  consequences for the country.
The artisanal  refiners,  who are mainly drawn from the Ogoni extraction had in August  met with the Minister of State for Environment and Chairman, Governing Council, HYPREP, Ibrahim Jibrin, in Port Harcourt, at a one-day consultative  meeting  organised by the office of  the project coordinator of the HYPREP.
During  the meeting, the artisanal  refiners through  their spokesman,  Mr. Domka Humphrey said they could  only  stop refining petroleum  products  illegally if the  Federal  Government would empower   them as well as include them in the remediation  process in  Ogoni-land.
He said: “Sir, I will tell you  our minds,  if you don’t  empower us,  we will not stop  refining, because this is what we feed our families and relations with. We don’t have anything doing after government took away  pipeline  surveillance from us”.
So, we need to be carried along. Some of us are graduates, many people are still in the bush refining, if you empower us, we will talk to them and they will leave the bush. But where we are not seeing anything, it will be very difficult for us to leave the illegal refining”.
However,  Dekil disclosed  that HYPREP had  started engaging with the artisanal  oil refiners with a view to checking the menace of their  activities  in the area.
“We  are also in the process of engaging with the  ex-artisanal  refiners. This is  another key aspect of our activities.
“It is important that the artisanal refining activities in the area is stopped because it’s a source of worry after clean-up.
“It will make no sense if we were to spend  this  amount of money, one billion dollars,  to remediate sites only to have these  places polluted again.
“So, we needed to engage with the artisanal refiners. The  Minister of State for Environment, three weeks  ago, on the invitation of HYPREP, came to Port Harcourt  and met with a cross section of the people.
“They agreed to key into the project and stop all such illegal activities.
“They also added that they would like an alternative training for themselves”, he added.
The coordinator  revealed that HYPREP would  soon be conducting a workshop for the  artisanal  refiners so as to come up with the most appropriate  training programmes for them.
Dekil  disclosed  that HYPREP had successfully created eight  remediation active   sites carrying out demonstration projects  across four local government areas of Ogoni-land.