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OIL SPILL: Farmers, fisherman cry out over loss of livelihood in Bayelsa community

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OIL SPILL: Farmers, fisherman cry out over loss of livelihood in Bayelsa community

By Samuel Oyadongha

RESIDENTS of Ikarama, a predominantly fishing and farming settlement on the fringe of Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, have complained about devastation of their fishing and farming occupations, following the April 7 crude oil spill from a delivery line in the area.

The facility, known as the 14-inch Okordia-Rumekpe crude trunk line is part of the Trans Niger Pipeline, TNP, operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC.

JIV points to equipment failure NDV learned that a section of the trunk line that conveys crude to the firm’s crude export terminal at Bonny in Rivers State, suffered a rupture around the Ikarama enclave and discharged crude into the ecosystem, impacting the locals’ means of livelihood.

It was learned the Joint Investigation Visit, JIV, report traced the spill to equipment failure which emanated from a rupture on the 14-inch crude delivery line.

The JIV report indicated that some 213 barrels which had no impact on the environment outside SPDC’s right of way leaked from its asset, while approximately 110 barrels polluted 1.34 hectares of land.

Villagers demand remediation  However, the natives are calling for remediation of the pollution to enable them carry out their fishing and farming occupations and cater for their families.

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Residents near the spill impacted site lamented that they have suffered untold hardship from the pollution of land, air and lakes due to the evaporation of the leaked crude by the scorching sun.

An indigene, Edu Ikio, who reportedly witnessed the JIV, said: “They all saw that the rupture was caused by corrosion, yet Shell disagreed. Normally,  SPDC when they come,  even if the spill was caused by corrosion, they would try to influence it in their favour by saying it was caused by third party so as to avoid responsibility to the land owners.

“But this one, thank God that it was very obvious that it was equipment failure, as the government representatives and regulators and all who were here confirmed it,” he said.

Pipeline over 40 years

Also, Chief Washington Odoyibo said residents have been experiencing the antics of Shell attributing every spill incident to sabotage times without number.

“When the spill occurred at this place in November, 2019 during the flood, Shell came here and turned it to sabotage. This pipeline is over 40 years, I was a child when they laid this pipe line here, but they refused to replace it and it is failing every now and then,” Odoyibo said.

The community leader also dismissed the claim by SPDC that some 213 barrels had no impact on the environment and wondered if the environment where the 213 barrels of crude leaked into was isolated from the area.

“When our people inhale this crude oil, in a short while one can come down with cough. This crude oil can give different kinds of sickness; cough, runny nose, and so on. So, this thing is affecting us. Besides that, if we go inside our swamp here; you would see different kinds of fishes dead because of this spill. Fish ponds have been destroyed,’’ he stated.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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