Twenty-Two years after the Jesse pipeline explosion claimed the lives of over a thousand persons in Jesse, Ethiope West local government area of Delta State, the Achoja Research Council has held a symposium to proffer ways to avoid future reoccurrences of such incidents.

The event which was hosted by the executive assistant to the Delta State Governor on Niger Delta Affairs, Prof Godini Darah, and co-chaired by the vice-chancellor of Western Delta University, Oghara, Prof Christiana Okobiah, and Prof. Sunny Awhefeada, was held at the auditorium of the Western Delta University, and had the theme, “Farewell to Fossil Fuel Fatalities in Our Lands”.

In his paper presentation, the guest speaker, Mr. Nnimmo Bassey of the Health of Mother Health Foundation, stated that the best way to honor the memory of those that died during the fire incident is to ensure that there is no repeat of such a horrific incident.

According to him, the steps towards achieving this include replacing all pipelines that have outlived their lifespan and are liable to corrode or leak.

He listed the steps to include, “Companies and the government should conduct regular integrity tests on their pipelines, prioritize the safety of human lives and not be solely concerned with protecting pipelines and crude oil for the sake of petrodollars and free prior informed consent must be obtained from communities before hazardous facilities such as oil/gas pipelines are allowed on their lands and territories.

“Where there are existing projects and/or proposed new ones, operating companies must post a reasonable deposit for covering costs of remediation in case of accidents or on the decommissioning of their plants at the end of their lifespan, environmental and social impact assessments must be carried out and fully debated by affected communities before any fossil fuel project is permitted in their communities.

“It is also essential to ensure that pipelines are not laid on the surface and that associated facilities are adequately protected and secured with all, incident reporting and response should be immediate and transparent.

“Companies must adhere to the best international standards and end the reign of environmental racism in our lands and urgent assessment or audit of the entire Niger Delta environment followed by thorough remediation of the pollution accumulated over the six decades of oil exploitation in the region.”