The People of Lasukugbene Community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have disagreed with the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) over how the latter responded to the oil spill which occurred in the area.
While the community berated NAOC for being insensitive and negligent for six weeks after two major oil spills occurred in the community from the Tebidaba-Brass Trunk pipeline, the oil firm claimed that its response effort was hampered by the community.
Environmentalists who visited the spill site on Monday, March 28, 2022, however, noticed a large polluted area that has yet to be cleaned.
Mr Zion Kiantei, a resident, and Mr Valiant Jackson, community secretary, said that the Lasukugbene community had not benefited from the oil company since it started operations in the area in 1974.
They expressed regrets that in spite of the dearth of benefits from oil exploration, frequent oil spills had destroyed the ecosystem, crippling fishing and farming activities.
The environmentalists urged the Bayelsa and Federal Governments to sanction the oil firm for negligence over the two oil spills that occurred in Lasukugbene Community along the Tebidaba-Brass Trunkline.
The environmental rights group consists of the Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF).
The team was led by Mr Alagoa Morris, Head of Bayelsa Field Operations at ERA/FoEN.
Morris described the oil leak as a major spill and berated Agip for its failure to carry out routine checks on its facilities, which led to the spills.
Morris also blamed the regulatory agencies for failing on their duties.
He called for relief materials to be sent to the people of Lasukugbene to cushion the effects of the spills.
He also called for immediate clean up and remediation.
However, Eni, the Italian parent company to NAOC, in a statement by a spokesman, said the oil firm acted promptly but expressed regret that its officials were denied access to the spill site.
“We confirm that there was a leak reported on 05/03/2021 along the Tebidaba-Brass 18’ pipeline, located in the Southern Ijaw area of Bayelsa State.
“The company acted promptly following this report and the pipeline was shut-in, while all containment / environmental protection measures were put in place.
“Unfortunately, the repair of the pipeline and the joint investigation were hindered by neighbouring local communities.
“The leak was repaired on 21st March once the company was granted access.
“The disruption of intervention was reported to the appropriate regulatory agencies,” Eni stated.
By Nathan Nwakamma