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Bayelsa community residents learn how to monitor, document pollution by oil companies

An environmental group, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), has commenced the training of 100 residents of oil-rich communities in Bayelsa on pollution monitoring.

Oil spill pollution
A water body in the Niger Delta polluted by crude oil

The communities were drawn from Brass Local Government Area of the state.

The Programmes Manager, HOMEF, Mr Stephen Oduware, said at the opening of the training on Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Twon Brass that the participants would monitor and document pollution by oil companies in their communities.

According to him, some International Oil Companies operating in the area, notably Agip and Shell, had reported series of oil spills in 2015, 2021 and 2022 in the area.

Oduware said the aim of environmental monitoring and reporting training was to enable the locals to highlight and document the environmental impacts of oil spills and other activities on their communities.

He added that it was to build the capacity of the people to advocate for sustainable environmental practices and speak up on what they want in their communities.

“We are here in Twon Brass to have discussions and know the challenges they face.

“This area is predominantly fishermen, not only those in Twon Brass, but other communities also.

“We are here to talk to them; these people face the issue of pollution from the production platforms and export loading terminals.

“The Aiteo loading vessel that is off the coast here is a very big menace, it is causing a lot of spills affecting the environment.

“So, we came here to sit down to analyse the situation and to talk about the needed actions.

“They need environmental clean-up, remediation and restoration, they equally need a health audit, we must know the health issues they are having,” he said.

Mr Morris Alagoa, Programme Manager and Head Environmental Right Action (ERA), Niger Delta Resource Centre, said the event was to educate the people on the importance of clean environment, effects of pollution and mitigation procedures.

He observed that, due to negative human activities on the environment, most aquatic animals in the food chain and crops have become extinct.

According to him, oil spill is also hindering healthy living among rural dwellers as their environment face continuous pollution.

“We are in the community to empower them on how to reach out to their people, to reach out to the government, the oil firms, the media and to be self-reliant in dealing with their issues,” Alagoa added.

He commended HOMEF for the training and sensitisation of the rural people who bear the brunt of oil pollution.

The Project Officer, ERA, Mr Monday Zeworitin, said oil spills load the marine environment with a lot of toxic chemicals detrimental to life under water.

“When exposed to crude oil, adult fish may experience reduced growth, enlarged livers, changes in heart and respiration rates, fin erosion and reproduction impairment.

“Oil also adversely affects eggs and larvae survival,” he said.

On his part, Chief Otonye Layefa, the Vice Chairman Twon Brass Council of Chiefs, commended the organisers for the training, saying the community also suffer from ocean surge.

He appealed to the Bayelsa and Federal Governments to come to their aid as their ancestral land is being gradually washed away.

“Our people are affected by oil spill, our livelihood is being destroyed because of the oil spilled by the oil firms,” Layefa added.

By Shedrack Frank

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