Bayelsa communities accuse Agip contractor of setting spill site ablaze

Posted by News Express | 1 December 2021 | 668 times

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•Site of an oil spill

 

The people of Ondewari and Okpotuwari communities in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have accused the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and its contractor of setting fire to an oil spill-impacted site in their bush.

The leak occurred in July 2021 around the Ondewari-Okpotuwari section of the Ogboinbiri-Teibidaba flow line belonging to the NAOC.

The spill and the inferno have devastated the swamps and affected numerous fish ponds, raffia palms and palm wine tapping camps, economic trees and farmlands, among others.

Speaking with a team of environmental activists and journalists at the burnt spill site on Monday, the paramount rulers of Okpotuwari and Ondewari, Tiger Moses and Robert Ikisa, respectively, lamented that the incidents had destroyed their means of livelihood and exposed them to health hazards and hunger.

Moses said, “The clean-up contractor met with us saying they want to come and do clean-up. Along the line, they burnt off the whole spill site in the course of their cleaning. As you can see, their (Agip) right of way and both sides of it are burnt.

“We are calling on the government to come and help us. Agip has done this several times; not once or twice. We cannot take it again. As you can see, palm wine tappers are affected, fishing nets and traps and other things have been burnt. The environment is spoilt, we don’t have any other place to go. This is where we earn our living and it is gone.”

Also speaking, the youth president of the Ondewari community, Golio Captain, insisted that the incident resulted from equipment failure contrary to claims by the oil firm that it was caused by third-party interference.

Golio said “the contractor intentionally, purposely set fire on the site four days into the clean-up,” adding that the contractor allegedly refused to dump recovered crude oil into a pit they had dug near the impacted area for subsequent evacuation.

The Head, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Yenagoa office, Alagoa Morris, described the setting ablaze of the Ondewari-Okpotuwari spill site by Agip and its contractor as “one too many.”

He said, “The issue relating to the negative environmental practice whereby oil spill-impacted environments are burnt off is not new. But this one that occurred here is one too many. This crime has to be reported even though we have documented a lot of them, especially by Agip and Shell. If you go to Lasukgbene, Ikenghebiri, Okordia, Ikarama, Biseni, Oruma, Joinkarama 4, the story is the same, you have burnt spill sites. What about Emago-Kugbo where somebody who was returning from the farm was trapped by spill site fire and smoke and the person died?”

The activist highlighted some reports of Joint Investigation Visits (JIVs) which resulted from equipment failure-induced spills and proper remediations were not carried out with compensation paid by the culpable oil companies while the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) could not enforce the law.

(Daily Independent)


Source: News Express

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