Archbishop condemns oil firms for ‘sparking environmental genocide’

The Archbishop of York has called for urgent action to stop the oil spills that are devastating communities in Nigeria’s Bayelsa state.
Following the release of an interim report of the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission, which he chairs, the Archbishop, Dr. John Sentamu, called the actions of oil companies operating in the Niger Delta as “nothing less than environmental genocide”.
The Archbishop said that oil companies needed to end a culture of double standards in Nigeria. Launching the report, he accused Shell, AGIP and other oil companies of reaping environmental devastation upon the people of Bayelsa and of ignoring their pleas for assistance.
He said: “Roughly 40m litres of oil wind up in the Niger Delta annually, eight times more than is spilled in America, the world’s biggest producer and consumer.”
Bayelsa is the region where oil was first discovered in the country in the 1950s. Few countries have suffered more from oil pollution than Nigeria. Some spills are caused by equipment failure and others by sabotage. Over the last half century, as many as 10 million barrels of oil have been spilled across the country. This would be the same as a spill the size of the Exxon Valdez catastrophe – which devastated the coast of Alaska – every single year for the last 50 years.
“Early analysis shows that if Bayelsa’s share of oil spilled is the same as oil pumped, as much as a barrel of oil may have been spilled for every man, woman and child living in Bayelsa today,” The Archbishop said: “It is estimated that the consequences of oil spills may kill around 16,000 infants in the Niger Delta annually within their first month of life.”

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