Bayelsa community laments oil spill, neglect

*Wants NOSDRA to prevail on Agip to clean up

Samuel Oyadongha

24 October 2011, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa-The people of Ikeinghenbiri in Olodiama clan in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State and the group Environment Rights Action (ERA) have called on the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and other related agencies of government to prevail on the Nigeria Agip Oil Company to clean up the polluted environment.

Though the spill from a ruptured pipeline belonging to Agip which occurred on September 27, 2011 had since been clamped, the natives are not happy with development and expressed fear the spill may spread further as a result of the heavy rainfall and volume of flood in the area.

The Community Development Committee chairman of the embattled Ikeinghenbiri, Mr. Marshall J. Amabebe who bared the mind of the natives noted with sadness that nearly one after month after the incident the company was yet to clean up the impacted area.

He said, “this spill occurred in the last week of last month on 27th September, 2011 and we promptly informed the owners of the crude oil bearing pipeline, Agip. Sadly, after Agip first came and we led them to locate the actual site, because Agip didn’t even know the site that was spewing the crude oil; the company later back with a gunboat and soldiers on the 2nd of October, 2011 and without any community representatives, they accessed the ruptured site and clamped (stopped) the section the was leaking and left. Our people felt very intimidated by the gunboat and soldiers. Up till today, Agip has not told us the cause of spill and, we are not comfortable with this at all. Ordinarily, we expect Agip to ensure that all stakeholders are invited to the spill site before clamping is effected with a view to ascertain the cause of spill.

“We demand that Agip tell us the cause of spill. But then, they have to show that there was a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) to the spill site. If there was one, then we demand to have the JIV report so that we can know the cause of spill and related recommendations contained therein. It is wrong for Agip to effect clamping without a JIV. And, if there was a JIV, then our community must be represented. But in this case, there was none.”

“It will be unthinkable to just keep silent considering the extent of damage done to the environment. It has affected both the fauna and flora in the environment. We suffered this same thing last year, even though the JIV report of that one (of last year) indicated equipment failure.

The ERA Coordinator in Bayelsa State, Comrade Alagoa Morris who was in the community ascertain the extent of the spill on the environment also joined in calling on the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to take positive steps to ensure the polluted environment is cleaned by Agip.
Comrade Morris added that in view of proper records relating to such oil spills, Agip should avail the community a copy of the JIV report it was carried out.

“Agip should take measures to stop the crude oil from spreading further in the swamp and into the Ikebiri River as well as cleanup the impacted environment: the swamp and any other site so polluted by the spill,” he noted.

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