Farmers lament impact of Kolo Creek spill incident in Bayelsa

Posted by News Express | 5 May 2015 | 2,653 times

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Some 50 farmers impacted by the April 15 oil leak incident from Shell’s Kolo Creek oil fields in Otuasega, Bayelsa have decried damages they suffered from the incident.

The farmers said that a Joint Investigation Visit to probe the cause and impact of the spill excluded their farms despite efforts to draw the attention of the team to the impacted areas

The farmers comprising banana and plantain plantation owners and fish pond operators in the area appealed to Bayelsa government to assist them in prevailing on the oil firm to clean up the areas and indemnify them for the losses.

Mr Florence Ako, who owns a plantain plantation opposite the Kolo Creek manifold, told a NAN Correspondent at her farm that the crude oil which gushed from the manifold under high pressure spread into her farm and damaged the crops.

Her words: “The damage caused by the oil on our farmlands are visible for all to see and this is happening so close to harvest time, look at the fruits and the oil that spread on the fruits have condemned them, nobody can eat anything from it.

“It is from this farm that me and my husband depend on the feed and train our children in the school and my husband’s farm was equally impacted at the other side.

“Unfortunately the Joint Investigative Team that visited did not come to this side and we came around to show them our farms but they did not listen to us and eventually they left.

“So as we speak the officials that assessed the spill impacted areas excluded our farmlands and they have abandoned the oil residues and there is no oil recovery and clean up going on here.”

Mrs Ako’s husband, Olei Ako, said that his own farm consisted of banana and plantain plantations were impacted and not captured by the investigation team.

He said that the affected farmers had reported their plight to the Bayelsa Ministry of Environment to ensure that their farmlands were cleaned and remediated.

On his part, Mr Badigigha Igbodo said his family owned fish pond and several others were contaminated by the crude spill which wiped out the fish stock and left the ponds floating with dead fishes.

Igbodo said that the spill had destroyed the means of economic sustenance of more than 50 farmers who are still counting their losses following the spill.

He maintained that the affected farmers believe that the spill was traceable to operational failure on the part of the oil firm due to lapse created by the surveillance staff guarding the facility.

“We are told Shell said the spill was caused by sabotage but it is rather their negligence because the facility is a well secured area and they should take responsibility for the security lapse that allowed this to happen,” Igbodo said.

“This was the views of the community representatives but Shell officials in their ways imposed their own views and came out with the report excluding our farms,” he added.

Reacting to the development, Mr Iniruo Wills, Bayelsa Commissioner for Environment, said that the state government would verify the reported exclusion of impacted sites.

According to Wills, “We have to look the information and verify it and if it is true that the impacted area was larger than what was originally captured, we shall find a way of addressing these concerns.

“All parties have a duty to make sure that they are included, nobody can hide under the cover of technicalities to say that a fact that is reality will not be captured.

“We have to look at it and address it one way or the other even if it means paying another visit, another JIV to expand the scope, we cannot leave those people outside the net of justice.”

However, Mr. Precious Okoloba, Head of Media Relations in SPDC, told NAN that the oil firm stands by the report of the JIV report that allegedly excluded vast parts of impacted areas.

“The JIV clearly states the cause and area of impact.

“Under Nigerian oil and gas regulations, the JIV determines the cause and impact of spill incidents. The investigation team which visited the site of the Kolo Creek spill on April 16 concluded that the spill was caused by sabotage,” Okolobo said.

•Photo shows Shell workers recovering the oil spill site at Kolo Creek, Bayelsa State.

Source: News Express

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