Beginning from August, the Federal Government through the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency will start clamping down on oil marketers in the downstream petroleum subsector who flout environmental laws by polluting the environment where they operate.
According to the government, the move will help address the rising cases of environmental pollution caused by the operations of filling stations, tank farm operators, as well as depot managers.
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting between NOSDRA and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria in Abuja, the Director-General, NOSDRA, Idris Musa, stated that the enforcement of extant environmental protection laws in the downstream petroleum sub-sector would begin by mid-August.
He said, “By the middle of August this year, our officers will be on the field to enforce compliance and before then we would have finished with the two other groups of operators in the downstream oil sector, which are Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria.
“So, nobody will say ‘we were not told’ because we are again going to pass the information through their executive bodies who will be able to disseminate this to their members across the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.”
Musa explained that the government, through the initiative, would curb all forms of pollution of groundwater caused by pollutants from the facilities of oil marketing firms.
He said, “For those whose boreholes are already being polluted, we are putting a check to those things that make it possible for their groundwater to be polluted. Once you guide those who operate in that sector properly, they will know what to do.
“We have had instances where people tell us that they saw hydrocarbon inside their wells. Some others, in the past, saw crude in their wells and they thought that there was oil in their domains, not knowing that the oil they saw was not the one that came from the ground but oil that sipped into the aquifer.
“That is the kind of thing we want to stop. People should be more cautious and then the operators should be more aware of the need to keep their operations in a way that does not pollute the environment.”
When asked if there would be sanctions against defaulters, the NOSDRA boss explained that the enforcement was not primarily aimed at sanctioning or penalising operators, but added that those who continue to default would face the consequences.