By Samuel Oyadongha, Emma Arubi & Akpokona Omafauiare
Indigenes and fishermen of Bayelsa State communities on the Atlantic fringe, yesterday, raised alarm over the gradual spread of crude oil supposedly from Shell Petroleum Development Company, Bonga oil field into their rivers, waterways and other parts of the state.
Similarly, fears that Shell’s Bonga field oil spill might affect some coastal communities in Delta State, have been confirmed with crude oil suspected to have floated from Bonga spreading across the Beniboye, Odimodi, Ogulagha and Forcados rivers in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
In Bayelsa, the people of Bisangbene, one of the host communities to the multi-billion naira Shell oil field in Ekeremor Local Government Area in Bayelsa West and Odioma community in Brass Local Government Area, in the Bayelsa East, have expressed concern over the massive crude oil leakage into their waterways and rivers.
People of these predominantly fishing communities said thick crude slick had been sighted on the Bisangbene River, the Fish camp 2 at the Vanish Island and the St. Nicholas cove along the Atlantic shoreline close to Odioma on the Atlantic fringe of Ekeremor and Brass councils.
Chairman of Community Development Committee, CDC, of Bisangbene community, Mr. Goodnews Gereghewei, yesterday, in a telephone interview with Vanguard from the coastal enclave, said the development had forced their people (fishermen) to withdraw from the river because of the massive spill and fear of possible fire outbreak from their use of local lamp in the course of fishing at night.
He said: “As you know, our occupation is predominantly fishing and our fishermen have withdrawn from the sea because of the massive oil spill due to fear of being roasted alive since they fish mostly at night with local lamps.”
In Delta State, the fear has also spread to the oil-rich Ugborodo communities on the Atlantic ocean as the spill is flowing fast on the high sea, when Vanguard undertook a joint visit with Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, officials to the sea to assess the extent of pollution.
As a result, Shell has been called upon to act fast to halt the spread of the spill to other areas.
The call was made by a team from NIMASA, who arrived Warri from Lagos, yesterday, and went straight to the mouth of the Atlantic ocean at Bonoboye in Delta State to ascertain the impact of the Bonga oil spill.
Captain Warredi Enisuoh, Deputy Director of NMASA, who led the team, while speaking to newsmen after a visit to one of the affected communities in Burutu council, urged Shell to move to the area to contain and clean up the spill.
He said: “At this particular point in time, we definitely know that there is a spill in the area, but Shell did nothing to contain it. We do have more spills offshore around the Beniboye community of Burutu council and we have taken samples of that oil, but we cannot at this point, confirm whether it was from the Bonga oil spill or not, only a scientific analysis will determine this.
“From what our team saw, it is appalling, and not very good to see and as you can see, we are here and the Director General of NIMASA, Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, was very concerned hence he sent this particular team to go out there and see things for ourselves.”