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OIL SPILL: Our rivers contaminated, we can’t fish anymore, Bayelsa community cries out

By Samuel Oyadongha

AGHORO- INDIGENES of the coastal fishing settlement of Aghoro,  Ekeremor Local Government Area,  Bayelsa State,  have bemoaned the  devastating oil spill purportedly from the 24 -inch Trans-Ramos pipeline owned by oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, which affected fishing, their primary source of livelihood, and polluted rivers, creeks and rivulets.

NDV learned that the crude oil spill which occurred on May 17, also shattered other communities in neighbouring Delta State, killing fishes and other aquatic lives.

Though the cause of the spill is yet to be officially ascertained, relevant parties were said to have conducted preliminary Joint Investigation Visit, JIV, on the impacted site.

Economic activities paralysed

Lamenting the adverse effects of the spillage, an indigene of the area, Justin Gbagbiri, said: “This river is one of our major sources of drinking water, but since this spillage occurred, we cannot use this water anymore and the spill has affected most of our activities here. Fishing, which is our major occupation, has been adversely affected; as we cannot go to the river again to fish as we ought to.”

Eye, skin problems

“Due to this spillage, our children now have cough, some have eye and skin problems, in fact; different kinds of illnesses in the town. The situation seems a bit better now. When it first happened, you could not breathe well, because of the gas as it saturated the air.

Waiting for SPDC

So, we are waiting for Shell to come and do the needful, let them come and give us relief materials, send medical team and pay compensation,” he said.

ERA/FoEN confirm devastation

In field report by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN), made available to NDV, the people cried out that their socio-economic condition had worsened and drinking water polluted since the spill occurred.

In the report signed by Akpotu Ziworitin and Alagoa Morris, ERA/FoEN monitors in Bayelsa, the groups said: “All around the river banks tell this tale of oil industry- induced pollution, as the grasses and other vegetations bear the signs clearly, including fishing nets and timber. The impacted environment tells a tale of heavy volume of crude oil spewed into the environment.

“Besides the crude oil stained grasses and other vegetation and materials at river banks; the surface of the entire body of water (on the river) displayed the colours associated with crude oil on water.”

Recovery, mapping concluded, JIV next

Sources told NDV that some Shell personnel were sighted in the area carrying out recovery of spilled crude oil and preventing further spread.

A senior official in the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment, who confirmed that the cause of the spill was yet to be ascertained, hinted: “The JIV process is on. They are undertaking recovery, and mapping of the impacted area is almost completed. I think what is left is opening the pipeline to know the cause of spill.”



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