ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ACTION DISCUSSES THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CHEVRON AND ITSEKIRI WOMEN, FEARING THAT THE PROMISES WILL BE BROKEN
ERA FIELD REPORT # 105
PROMISES MADE TO BE BROKEN:
AN UPDATE FROM ESCRAVOS
DATE: 30 JULY 2002
1. Communities have no copy of agreement with Chevron.
2. Clauses give Chevron amply time to break promises.
3. Fire ravaged environment unattended to.
The communities in Escravos are waiting for ChevronTexaco to fulfil its part of the agreement that ended the siege on its oil terminal there. In the mean time, the communities are counting the cost of the environmental impact of the fire that occurred at the facility a few days back. Oil pollution that resulted from the incident has affected communities in the area. Worst affected are the five communities that make up Escravos. These are Madagho, Ogidiben, Ajidagbo, Ogborodo and Ajala. The oil spilled into the Escravos River and spread through creeks in the area. Dead fishes could be seen floating in Escravos River, mangrove swamps and some creeks. On land, plants affected by the incident have also died. Traces of the Oil are still visible in the communities. Beside the Oil pollution, villagers also complained of atmospheric pollution caused by the thick smoke that resulted from the fire. "Smoke covered everywhere, the cloth on our bodies turned black and we all tried to escape," says Anju Ilori community leader of Madagho village. The air pollution led to respiratory problems in the communities. "Domestic animals also fell ill after they inhaled the smoke", says Robert Oritsajero another community leader in Madagho village.
There was also the problem of contaminated rainwater to contend with. This was not limited to Escravos alone. The entire Warri South West Local government area experienced it. It was a particularly bad situation because most communities in the area depend on rainwater for drinking. The contamination has left many communities with no drinkable water. With no alternative, some people have drunk the contaminated rain water, which appears blackish.
"Those who drank the water suffer acute abdominal problems and some almost died", says Captain Gedu a youth in Madagho village.
TERMS OF "AGREEMENT"
Communities are angry that no ChevronTexaco official has
visited them to assess the extent of the environmental problem. Doubts
are beginning to grow as to the sincerity of the Oil Company to live up
to the terms of the "agreement" that ended the shut down of its facilities
by angry women in the area. Meanwhile, the women (and the communities)
do not have any copy of the "agreement" (signed or unsigned) reached with
Chevron. Chevron told the women that at the time the agreement was reached
their photocopiers at Warri and Abiteye were faulty. Moreover, Chevron's
agreement to provide jobs is subject "to the availability of vacancies,"
a situation that is dependent solely at the whim of Chevron. Also, implement
of the few areas "agreed" to will be spread over several months. Some angry
Ijaw women from nearby villages went to ChevronTexaco's facility at Escravos
last week to protest the company's nonchalant attitude to the environmental
problems caused by the fire.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
(a) Send letters to Chevron urging them to show good neighbourliness and engage in dialogue with the local people. They have rights to be heard.
(b) Send a letter to Delta State Government to pressure Chevron to adhere to environmental standards.
(c) Send a letter to the Legislators acquainting them of the problems Chevron has caused to the people and the environment, which requires immediate action for restoration and to amend and respect the laws of the land.
(d) Send copies of your letter to editors of your newspapers,
concerned local groups and international environmental rights outfits.
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