Posted by Arodiegwu Eziukwu, Yenagoa | 3 March 2015 | 2,873 times
An oil leak from Seibou Deep facility operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has been discharging crude into Ogboinbiri River at Southern Ijaw Council Area, Bayelsa.
Residents in the coastal settlements in Ogboinbiri and neigbouring communities say the oil leak has damaged the fishing activities of the people.
Some residents who depend on the river for drinking water and water for domestic use say that the leak has continued unabated for over a month, compelling them to resort to buying sachet water.
A visit to the spill site showed that the surface of the river has become covered by crude deposits flowing down the waterways. Keme-Ebiama, Apoi, Kokologbene, Gbaruan, Ukubie, Lobia communities are the worst hit.
Several communities along Ogboinbiri River bank have also been affected, with the water current aiding the dispersal of the crude oil.
Chief Columbus John-Bull, Chairman of the Community Development Committee (CDC) of Keme-Ebiama community, lamented that the spill has deprived them of their source of water for drinking and domestic use.
His words: “This major spill started a long time ago like a small leak but had turned into a serious issue by 15 February at the Seibou 2 facility of Shell at Ogboinbiri.
“The spill first affected rivers in the Ogboinbiri axis before spreading to other communities. The volume of crude oil was really heavy; it covered the whole of our river.
“It was so devastating that our people could no longer go to the river and take their bath or fetch drinking water.
“Due to the heavy pollution and resultant scarcity of drinking water, the cost of water sachet in the community rose from N10.00 to N30.00.
“Most of our people cannot afford the sachet water at that price. We are very much worried of what the situation might lead to considering the recent outbreak of cholera in some communities in the local government area.”
The community leader therefore urged the management of SPDC to take responsibility for the incident and dispatch relief materials and medical team to forestall breakout of epidemic in the area.
He also urged the oil firm to compensate communities and individuals impacted by the oil leak for the losses incurred as a result of the incident.
Mr. Iniruo Wills, Bayelsa Commissioner for Environment, confirmed the development when contacted and said plans were underway to respond to the challenges faced by the coastal communities.
Wills explained that his ministry has summoned SPDC officials to a meeting to hold today, March 3.
“We have invited Shell for a meeting on Tuesday to deal with this spill. In the meantime we are asking all parties to do everything necessary to ensure quick containment and clean up,” he said.
“The Bayelsa State Government through the Ministry of Environment and other relevant agencies will be taking steps that will ensure severe sanctions for oil pollution, whoever the culprits,” Wills added.
Mr. Joseph Obari, Spokesman of SPDC, said at the weekend that the firm was yet to conduct a Joint Investigation Visit on the spill site.
•Photo shows SPDC Managing Director Osagie Okunbor.
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