*4 communities hit
By Godwin Oghie
Amid the raging controversy over the oil exploration activities of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) which left the Ogoni area of the Niger Delta severely polluted, there is a fresh outbreak of oil spillage in four communities in Delta State allegedly from the activities of an oil firm identified as Seplat Petroleum Development Company Limited.
The affected communities are Ugberikoko and Obontie in Sapele Local Government Area, and Abigborodo and Okogbo in Warri North Local Government Area.
The spillage, which reportedly occurred penultimate Monday, was said to have come from oil wells 1 and 25 in the area.
The net effect of the incident, according to the residents, is the pollution of the only source of drinking water in the area as a result of the covering of the surface of the creeks by oil.
Fishing, the main occupation of the residents, is paralysed. The fishes are dead, the residents claimed, thus throwing them into unemployment and hunger imminent.
Economic crops are also affected.
The chairman of Ugberikodo, Elder Ray Emene, during a visit to the communities, told Sunday Vanguard that the residents feared that diseases could break out because of the pollution of their only source of drinking water by the oil spillage.
His Abigborode counterpart, Mr. Francis Eyituohoh Maku, said his “community is highly devastated by the crude oil spillage as economic crops, animals and fish are at great risk”.
An estate surveyor, Mr. Tennyson Ogungbwemi, said the areas, if not cleaned up immediately, could have catastrophic consequences for the residents.
All efforts to get the officials of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Limited to comment on the oil spillage proved abortive as the firm’s office in the area was cordoned off by security agents when Sunday Vanguard visited the place.
The company’s community relations officer declined comments when contacted on phone.