– ERA/FoEN tasks Agip, NOSDRA, Bayelsa govt on urgent repairs
Port Harcourt — Over 150 fishermen and women in two separate fishing camps in Fantuo, Egenkiri, Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, have been rendered jobless due to repeated oil spills from the Riser 15a section of the 21’’ Ogoda-Brass pipeline operated by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC.
SweetCrude Reports gathered that the said pipeline has continued to pollute Egenkiri and other neighboring communities with repeated oil spills every three to six months since 2019, with the most recent oil spill noticed on July 2nd, 2023.
The fishing settlements, Egenkiri III and Egenkiri IV with a combine population of over 150 persons, are situated within the creeks of Ogoda-Brass, with the Agip oil facility separating them both.
The incessant oil spills from Agip have disrupted fishing activities around the fishing camps in Fantuo, depriving the people of their source of livelihood, with the concomitant health and environmental consequences on the fishers.
Narrating the predicament of the fishers, the Youth President of the fishing settlement, Mr Godman Inimi, lamented over the unending suffering which the people of Egenkiri were facing, due to the numerous oil spillages from Agip.
” The oil has polluted the rivers and made fishing less productive. Due to the prevailing situation, we hardly make ends meet and hence Agip should come to our aid by giving us relief materials and compensate us for losses. We can’t even sleep well at night when the wind brings the pungent smell of the crude oil. It is very disturbing, health wise.”
Similarly, a fisherwoman in Egenkiri III, Mrs. Barida Nimibofa, said the people were having severe health challenges due to the toxic chemical from crude oil on the waters and in the air space of the community.
“The odour from this crude oil spill is affecting us. The spill has destroyed our fishing materials, our nets and canoes. We see dead fishes floating as a result of the crude oil and, this has chased away fish from the environment. Our fishing activities are now very unproductive. So it is difficult to survive.
“The government should come and assist us. The crude oil has also affected our source of drinking water and bathing. Our children are also having health challenges because of this crude oil spill. Government should come and take care of our health, by bringing us medical supplies.”
Giving a brief history of the spill incidents from the facility, the CDC Chairman of Fantuo, Mr Micah Wakama Oruwori revealed that the oil spills from the Riser 15a has been a regular occurrence since it first started in 2019.
Oruwori called on Agip to provide relief materials for the victims and people impacted by the spill, and to also and pay compensations to Fantuo community and all satellite communities.
He said, “This oil spill from Agip’s Riser 15a first occurred in June 2019. After that spill they (Agip) built a cofferdam in 2019. The spill has since then become a regular occurrence, happening every four or six months and attracting the company for maintenance work. This recent one just occurred on the 2nd of July 2023, and they brought this boom on the 8th of July 2023.
“Anytime the spill occurs, they (Agip) usually give us cash of N1.2million to each of the affected fishing settlements and they normally come for maintenance. But it does not take as long as six months before another oil spill occurs.
“After the maintenance the spill will still occur because the pipeline is overdue for replacement. Agip built this first cofferdam in 2019 and, because it was not effective, a second one was built around the first one in March 2023.
“Agip laid this 21-inch pipe over 50 years ago; since 1971. Agip said this is a national trunkline and it is when they get approval from the Federal Government that they can effect replacement of the pipe. That was what they told us. It is the main delivery trunkline to Brass Terminal.”
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Mr. Chima Williams, says the unattended reoccurring spills was a deliberate criminal act against the environment and people, considering the negative implications to marine life and the food chain in terms of livelihood and human health.
Williams expressed fears that since crude oil was toxic, spewing it into the environment inhabited by people will expose them to the poisons.
“Agip is ultimately responsible for this destruction of the marine ecosystem and livelihoods of the locals. It must be compelled to clean up the spill and the damages it has caused them. This must not happen again.”
ERA/FoEN charged Agip to urgently carry out effective repairs of the leaking section of the Riser 15a of its 21’’ Ogoda-Brass pipeline for the health and safety of the fisherfolks; and also charged the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, to prevail on NAOC by ensuring effective repairs or sectional replacement on the Riser 15a.
Williams also called on the Bayelsa State Government and the State Ministry of Environment to consider this incident as a matter of utmost importance, and to take all necessary actions to ensure NAOC stops the environmental terrorism practiced in Bayelsa State, as such was not obtainable in Italy.
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