Fresh oil spill impacts environment of Bayelsa communities

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A fresh devastating oil spill has been reported at a facility operated by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) around Ogboinbiri in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

The oil leakage, which occurred on October 17 at the NAOC Wellhead 9, was reportedly caused by equipment failure.

A field report released on Tuesday in Yenagoa by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) said the incident “sprayed crude oil into the environment in gaseous form.”

The report signed by Project Officer/Head of ERA Niger Delta Resource Centre, Yenagoa, Alagoa Morris, noted that a similar incident had happened around some of the oil firm’s wellheads in the area about one year ago.

“The (recent) incident occurred on the wellhead operated by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in a marine environment, very visible from the community and commuters on the Apoi Creek; a short distance from the community.

“ERA/FoEN had reported a similar incident on these wellheads (three) about a year ago. And these spills, which are due to equipment failure, impact the one-way flowing Apoi Creek, affecting Ogboinbiri community and downstream communities like Keme-ebiama and others, all in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State,” it stated.

The youth president of Ogboinbiri, Clinton Oseke, confirmed the recent oil spill, saying that officials of Agip mobilised to the facility one and half hours after the incident took place.

He said, “It (the oil spill) occurred as a result of equipment failure, no argument about that. The company officials finally put it off, but the water of the creek and air we breathe were affected.

“While crude oil spread downstream, the fumes in the air lasted for several hours in the community environment causing discomfort to residents.”

The environmental rights organisation called on the National Oil Spill Detection Agency (NOSDRA) to take steps to ensure that “these reoccurring equipment failure incidents from Agip facilities within Ogboinbiri community environment do not continue without serious penalties against the company.”

“Besides proper investigation and related actions to forestall further occurrence, the incidents should attract compensation, medical attention for victims and environmental audit.

“This is most needful as the community depends on their natural bodies of water in the environment for their water needs since there is no provision of potable water by government or Agip,” ERA/FoEN said.