Consultant makes case for EIA process in Lagos modular refinery project

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Prof. Alhassan Muhammad, the Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) Consultant to the Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd proposed Industrial Park Project, has said that it is difficult to dodge the process.
“There are series of steps whenever an EIA is to be conducted. The first being that the proponent gets an EIA consultant, which they did late last year, and then registered the project with the Federal Ministry of Environment.

 “We did register this project with the Federal Ministry of Environment in December 2015,” he noted.

The consultant stated this in an interview in Lagos after a stakeholders' meeting with the host community for the proposed Integrated Oil&Gas Ltd modular refinery in Onisiwo Island, Lagos.  

He explanation was necessitated by an allegation that the company had gone ahead to begin construction at the site without carrying out an EIA at the site.

He said the verification was done at the site with a representative from the environment assessment department, Federal Ministry of Environment alongside the EIA Consultant and the proponent.

 According to Muhammad, the site verification is to verify that no form of development has started with respect to the proposed project site, which the company did in January 2016.

Usually, a representative of the Federal Ministry of Environment then writes his report to the ministry to ascertain that he has been there and development has not commenced and after, the data base collection commences, Muhammad said.

He said the data base collection for this project was in two parts; one in the raining season, the other one in the dry season and at each step, the Federal Ministry of Environment must be involved.

“We did the dry season data collection between Jan. 29 to first week February, and the Ministry sent a representative to ensure that whatever was being done conforms to laid down standard and that was concluded.

“Thereafter, from April 4 to April 8, the wet season data was done and concluded.  Even at this, there is a ministry representative that stood as a witness in the wet season data collection.

“When this is done, you take your samples to the lab and you inform the ministry, which also sends a representative to the accredited lab and watch the proceedings.”

The Consultant said that process would ensure the analysis is done in a standardised laboratory and the analysis was being done based on the specified standards.

“So, there is no way you can circumvent the EIA process. That is the stage where we are now. We hope that towards the end of this month the first draft report will be ready.

He added that after that stage, a 21-day display of the proposed project would be done at designated centres to announce the project take off.

“The project will be advertised in the media, specifically the print media. When that is concluded, the ministry will now fix a date and constitute a panel and they will come and sit.

 “Remember, the first duty of the panel on arrival, which is towards the final stage, is to visit the site. And one of the things they are supposed to verify is to ensure there is no development yet.

“If you look at the procedures the ministry follows, there is no way any proponent will circumvent laid down rules and regulations,” he said.

Muhammad added that the proponent and the EIA team would be sanctioned if at all there were any violation of this rules and regulation by the Federal Ministry of Environment.

He said consultants worked professionally and advised their clients correctly, because on the mistake of running fowl of the law, the proponent would be asked to get another consultant.

He said that construction work had yet started at the site, which is verifiable.