23 May 2013, Yenagoa – Communities in the downstream of the Taylor creek traversing Bayelsa communities in Yenagoa local government area have been hit by a fresh oil spill from a Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, facility.
The latest incident, it was learnt, occurred from a spill site three hours after it was clamped by SPDC personnel.
“About three hours after Shell clamped and left, the clamped spot re-erupted resulting in the massive spill we are now witnessing,” an eyewitness disclosed.
It was gathered that the latest spill, which occurred at Shell site in Biseni has impacted the Taylor Creek which serves JK4, Betterland, Ikarama and Kalaba communities.
Though the cause of the initial spills had been a subject of disagreement between the company and the community folks, while the locals are convinced that some of the spill points were traceable to equipment failure the company insists the spills are a result sabotage.
Environment Rights Action, ERA, team led by Comrade Alagoa Morris who visited the area to monitor the spill on receiving a distress call from JK4, Betterland, Ikarama and Kalaba in relation to the crude oil slick noticed on the Taylor Creek were reportedly arrested by soldiers at the spill site.
They were however released after about 30 minutes of alleged intimidation by the gun weilding soldiers.
“I was surprised when Shell used the JTF to intimidate me and my colleagues, including the driver of the hired taxi and a member of the family that own the land where the spill happened. They should allow us do our legitimate job while they do theirs.
“We were on a public road and not on Shell’s facility. I wonder why we should be harassed like that at gun point,” Morris, the ERA Field Officer in Bayelsa disclosed.
But when contacted, the SPDC which expressed concern over the spate of spills in the Biseni area blamed the latest incident on sabotage.
The SPDC through its Spokesman, Precious Okolobo said the spill was caused by unknown persons who tampered with a previously clamped flow line adding that this year alone between April 9 and 29, five spills, all caused by sabotage had been recorded in the area.
“SPDC is worried by the recent increase in the spate of spills in the Biseni area, caused by oil theft and sabotage of flowlines. Between 9 and 29th April this year, we recorded five spills all caused by sabotage. Joint Investigation Visits comprising NOSDRA, DPR, the community, SPDC and security agencies discovered that the spills were caused by hacksaw cuts to the flowlines. Cleanup of residual impacted area is planned for later in the year.
“Yesterday, (22 May) it was observed that unknown persons had tampered with a previously clamped flowline resulting in a spill. A Joint Investigation Visit is planned for the site. SPDC is very concerned about these sabotage spills because of the negative impact on the people and the environment.
“In 2011, SPDC set up a website www.shellnigeria.com/spills that captures all spills, sabotage and operational, and information on all the incidents under reference are fully listed there. This is the only such website in Nigeria, and we believe the initiative brings a new level of transparency in spills reporting in the Niger Delta,” he said.
*Samuel Oyadongha, Vanguard