Bonga Oil Spill: Activist laud NIMASA’s confirmation of alleged cover-up

Samuel Oyadongha

09 January 2012, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – A Niger Delta activist, Osteen Igbapike, has lauded the Nigerian Maritime Adminstration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), for being firm in its report on the Bonga oil spill alleging the Anglo Dutch oil giant tried to exonerate itself of blame.

The NIMASA boss, Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi had last week alerted the nation to what he called attempts to shield Shell from blame in the incident warning that unless urgent steps were taken by the authorities to compel the oil giant to act, the woes of affected communities in Delta, Bayelsa and even Akwa Ibom would worsen.

A NIMASA team dispatched to assess the situation, he said had turned in a report indicating that residents were in grave danger and faulted Shell’s response to the disaster so far, especially the latter’s attribution of the massive spill to a third party interference.

Osteen Igbapike, an environmentalist in an interview in Yenagoa said the NIMASA boss position on the spill has confirmed the fears of the people of the affected communities of allege cover up by Shell.

Describing the NIMASA boss as the Joshua out of the twelve spies sent out to assess the Bonga spill he said while others came back with encomiums for the polluter the former was firm in blaming Shell for the incident.

The position of others, according him, emboldened SPDC to brazenly introduce the issue of a third party spill in an attempt to completely evade its liability to the environment and the local people who will bear the brunt of the deleterious effect of the pollution in the short and long term.

” I read with great elation the anger of the Director General NIMASA Dr. Patrick Akpobuloukemi in the media where he described SPDC’s response and denials of its Bonga oil spill as irresponsible. Dr. Patrick Akpobuloukemi was quoted to have said SPDC is already denying that the spill did not originate from the Bonga Oil Field but from another third party spiller,” Igbapike said.

He lauded the NIMASA DG courageous to have told the nation that SPDC had “tried to cover up the spill until it became unbearable for them and they have no choice than to make the spill public”.

The Describing the Bonga oil spill as “near epidemic crisis” which has polluted the “entire ecosystem and aquatic life” he said, the NIMASA investigation which revealed that there was no spill from a third party interference as claimed by Shell has vindicated his earlier position of an allege cover up by Shell of the incident.

He said, “The NIMASA DG position as published in Vanguard newspaper of 4th January, 2012, completely vindicates my position in the same Vanguard newspaper of 1st January, 2011 and confirms the massive cover up of the Bonga oil spill by SPDC which is going on currently at different levels such as within the government/regulators in order to comprise them as well as the unregulated use of dispersants by the polluter (SPDC) (not to contain but to kill the evidence and extent of the impact of the spill) from the first day of the leak and Community Leaders in order to comprise them by dangling the carrot of community contracts.

The SPDC it would be recalled had said its timely response led to the containment of the spill adding that remnants from the spill from its Bonga oil field could not have reached Odioma community in Brass council area of Bayesa and other parts of the Niger Delta.

The oil giant in a statement signed by its Spokesman, Precious Okolobo had said “Satellite imagery and aerial surveillance indicates that the remnants of the oil spill from Bonga could not have reached either the Odioma coastline or other parts of the Niger Delta, as has been suggested.

“By Sunday, December 25th, the oil from Bonga had largely dispersed. However, around the same time as our efforts to clean up the Bonga oil offshore were coming to a successful conclusion, we noticed a clear trail of oil that we believe could not have been from Bonga more than 120 kilometers away. This trail of oil was fresh and clearly from a vessel given the distinctly different colour, shape and smell.

“As any good corporate citizen, we immediately began to address this fresh spill with dispersants. Unfortunately, our efforts were not completely successful and we now know some of the oil has hit isolated parts of the beach. Though this oil did not come from Bonga, we will clean it up. We have also taken samples of this oil which will be analysed by an independent lab. We are confident the results will show the oil on the beach or in these areas is not from the Bonga facility.”

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