January 29, 2017

Scientist disagrees with Shell on impact of oil leak on Bayelsa communities

LAGOS — An environmental scientist, Ms Benita Siloko, has disagreed with Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, on the impact of the 550 barrels of crude discharged into Ogboinbiri river in Bayelsa State in 2015.

SPDC had on March 5, 2015, confirmed that an oil leak from its underwater line within its oil fields in Ogboinbiri, Bayelsa, discharged some 550 barrels of crude oil into Ogboinbiri River on January 23, 2015.

Two years after an underwater oil leak discharged some 550 barrels of crude into Ogboinbiri River in Bayelsa State, SPDC said in a statement on January 25, 2017 said that the incident had no adverse impact to warrant compensation.

However, Siloko, an environmental scientist at Connected Development, CODE, said, yesterday, in Yenagoa that the stance of SPDC on the oil leak incident was “strange and worrisome.”

She noted that a volume of 550 barrels of crude oil, amounting to about 110,000 litres, was too massive and, therefore, not negligible.

The environmental scientist, who was reacting to the statement by SPDC on the oil spill, noted that position of the oil firm was not factual and had no scientific basis.

“We at CODE, an NGO, see the statement as a fallacy that must have been based on a false premise because it is well established that crude oil is toxic.”

“To claim that an accidental discharge of about 550 barrels as admitted by SPDC had no impact is dishonest and false, it is certain that there must be something wrong somewhere between the oil firm and the Bayelsa Ministry of Environment,” Siloko said.

Mr Joseph Obari, SPDC Spokesperson said that Seibou 2 oil spill, which occurred on January 23, 2015, was adequately contained within SPDC’s right of way and cleaned up.

“The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, had issued a certificate to acknowledge SPDC’s compliance with all clean-up standards.

“The Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) that was monitored by the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment and signed out by all parties established that the spill did not impact any third party.

“Since compensation was not applicable in this instance, SPDC supplied relief materials to communities that use its right of way for other activities.

“A further JIV conducted in neighbouring communities did not establish a subsequent claim by the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment of impact to third parties,” Obari stated.

It will be recalled that a Joint Investigation (JIV) report had concluded that the leak was caused by equipment failure due to a ruptured pipeline.

But Siloko maintained that the adverse impact of the spill had both short term and long term effects on the marine ecosystem as the water pollution is caused by oil spillage  destroys aquatic life.

“Oil pollution as a result of crude oil discharge is harmful to the environment in different ways, it is toxic and can poison the fishes and may further pose health dangers to people who consume the contaminated fish.

“Furthermore, oil discharged in water could stop natural aeration and bring about the death of trapped aquatic beings, in this instance we are looking at about 110,000 litres, that is over three tanker trucks of crude and you say there is no impact?

“In some instances, fish may consume the spilled oil or some other food substances contaminated with oil and accordingly make it inedible,” Siloko said.