5 September 2011, Sweetcrude, Aba – An oil spill, which occurred over a week ago, has devastated six oil producing communities in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State. The affected communities are Umuebulungwu, Umuorie, Umuitiri, Umukalu, Obohia and Obahu.
The spillage began on August 25 and was said to have occurred as a result of the washing by officials of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of the oil tank at Canoe’s Park Creek, location one, Isimiri oil field at Isimiri autonomous community in Ukwa West Local Government.
The pressure exerted in order to get the tank properly cleaned was alleged to have burst the connecting oil pipes, which conveyed products from the location to one of Shell’s flow stations.
Some of the burst pipes were reportedly put in place in the 1960’s and since then, there had been no effort at upgrading them. This, it was learnt, was caused the pipeline to burst at the slightest pressure.
Although the spillage occurred at the Isimiri oil location, the fast running river had spread the spilled oil to as far as five other communities, destroying the ecosystem along its route.
A spokesman, Chief Ridley Dike, lamented that such a thing would happen to the communities at a time the communities were about to harvest their farm produce. He berated SPDC for not taking enough precaution to forestal the spillage and for not upgrading the pipeline
He said it was painful that Shell had left the oil spillage to continue for days without doing anything to contain it, which was why it spread to the other five communities.
“We condemn in strong terms the lackadaisical attitude of Shell Petroleum as it concerns our plight or is it because we are from Abia?” he queried.
“Look at the Isimiri River. Our only source of water supply has been contaminated. Our fish ponds, economic trees, aquaculture, in fact, the entire ecosystem has been destroyed and Shell is keeping adamant,” he said.
Dike stated that they had not taken stock to ascertain the extent of loss incurred by the six communities as a result of the spill since it was still spreading. But, he admitted that properties worth billions of naira had been destroyed and called for immediate steps to cushion the effects of the spill on the communities.