The federal government has dismissed remarks that the Ogoni land cleanup was being delayed seven years after the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
Speaking with State House correspondents at the weekend, the Project Coordinator for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, (HYPREP), Dr. Marvin Dekilby, said work has commenced.
Dekilby said so far eight remediation active sites carrying out demonstration projects across four local government areas of Ogoniland, have been successfully created.
The project coordinator further disclosed that young Ogoni scientists with background in environmental science had been trained to manage the demonstration sites in the area.
According to him, HYPREP had embarked on massive rehabilitation of water facilities with a view to providing sustainable clean water across the four local government areas of the Ogoniland.
He expressed concerns about the activities of illegal and artisanal oil refiners, saying it was threatening the cleanup project.
According to him, HYPREP would soon be conducting a workshop for the artisanal refiners so as to come up with the most appropriate training programmes for them.
He said HYPREP had started comprehensive engagements of the artisanal oil refiners with a view to checking their activities.
“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, this is source of possible recontamination after cleanup.
“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 these people.
“They agreed to key into the project and to stop all such illegal activities. They also added that they would like an alternative training for themselves,” he said.