Thursday, December 24, 2015 4:26 pm
Three years after, coastal communities in Nigeria’s Bayelsa state affected by the Chevron’s KS Endeavour Rig Explosion in Funiwa oil field have dragged the firm to a San Francisco court in the United States.
The rig burnt for 46 days from 16 January 2012 before the fire was extinguished on 2 March, after the flow of natural gas dried up. Two Chevron workers died in the accident, with the Nigerian Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency threatening to slam a $3billion fine on the oil firm..
Now the people affected by the accident have taken their destiny in their hands by suing the company in the United States.
Representatives of victims visited Bayelsa Commissioner for Environment, Mr Iniruo Wills, on Thursday in Yenagoa.
Mr Alagoa Morris, Coordinator of the Lead Plaintiffs, said that the team’s advocacy visit to the commissioner was to solicit the support of the state government in the legal action.
He told Wills that the group commenced the legal action against Chevron in San Francisco on December 9.
Morris, an environmentalist, noted that the efforts of the Bayelsa Ministry of Environment were commendable, and urged the government to assist the victims in their search for justice.
“The Lead Plaintiffs thought it wise to pay you this advocacy and courtesy visit, to formally inform you about the on-going cases in the U.S.
“We also want to interact with you especially as your ministry also carried out some investigations on the incident.
“Gov. Sariake Dickson of Bayelsa visited Koluama 2 Town Hall on Feb. 27 and made pledge to set up technical and legal committees on the rig explosion to ensure that Chevron was held accountable for the disaster.
“It is the belief of the Lead Plaintiffs that the government meant well and made those laudable pledges in good faith.
“We are here to seek assistance from the state government through your ministry.
“We wish to benefit from the positive disposition of the ministry in protecting our environment, livelihood and health of victims of the oil industry operations, “ Morris said.
Responding, Wills noted that it was a matter for regret that four years after the incident, the victims were yet to get justice.
He commended the steps taken by the impacted communities and pledged the support of the state government to the plaintiffs.
“We shall continue to assist this cause, I have instructed our legal unit to offer assistance.
“We shall continue to help with technical expertise as our technical staff will be at your disposal, our doors are wide open to you, “ Wills said.
The offshore oil rig KS Endeavour, run on behalf of Chevron Nigeria Ltd., caught fire on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, while operating in the Funiwa field.