The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, has revealed that Bayelsa State, records about 40 spill cases in a month.
The Director General, Dr. Peter Idabor, who disclosed this also said that findings indicate that the rate of oil spill in Bayelsa is more devastating than that of the widely reported Ogoni land in Rivers State.
Though Bayelsa is one of the most endowed states in the federation, it nonetheless faces one of the worst environmental despoliation occasioned by oil exploration and exploitation activities.
Travelling to the hinterland of the state through the maze of rivulets for a first time visitor not used to the disgusting stench from the polluted environment along the waterways,could make one to throw up. In some of the routes, yellowish or brownish oil slick could be seen floating.
This painful reality forced the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, to cry out loud last week about the ongoing despoliation of the environment.
Sadly, the very existence of the people depends on the environment, which is being destroyed with impunity due to oil and gas activities, crude oil thieves and illegal refinery operators.
Dickson, who spoke during the visit of members of NOSDRA to Bayelsa, led by its Chairman, Major Lancelot Anyanya (rtd), called for stringent environmental laws. This is for the protection and preservation of the environment against crude oil pollution and other activities occasioned by oil exploration and exploitation activities in the Niger Delta.
He said an environment summit would be organised soon to discuss ways of mitigating the effects of oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the region and expressed his administration’s commitment to collaborate with NOSDRA to facilitate the speedy passage of the amended Act of the agency, which has undergone its first and second readings at the National Assembly.
Emphasizing the need for international oil companies operating in the Niger Delta to protect the environment, he decried the way and manner the environment was being abused with what he referred to as ‘reckless abandon’.
He described Bayelsa as the most fragile and highly compromised area, where environmental pollution has devastated the ecosystem for several decades since the discovery of crude oil in 1956.
Dickson explained that, the health implications arising from such environmental pollution necessitated the establishment of the toxicology institute to better appreciate the magnitude of the problems facing the people.
He said: ”I have said it before that what has been going on in Bayelsa State, the Niger Delta and in all oil producing areas concerning the levity with which oil companies treat the issues of the environment and the maintenance of environmental and health standards.
“When you look at all of these and particularly listening to your chilly statistics, which I believe is only a tip of the iceberg, one is really left with no other conclusion than that, we are actually facing a case of environmental terrorism.
“What has been going on in the Niger Delta since the discovery of oil; a situation where more than one spill takes place in Bayelsa every day, going by what your statistics is telling us and all these sites are treated with reckless abandon and the environment is left to fend for itself, the livelihood and in fact the lives of the people and the ecosystem are not attended to. What then is more of terrorist action than this?