Still smarting from an extensive crude oil spill that polluted their swamps and river around May/June 2020, residents of Ogboinbiri community in Apoi Clan of Southern Ijaw local government area, Bayelsa State, appear to be victims of a fresh spill that occurred on Saturday, December 12, 2020.
Community contacts made the disclosure on Sunday, December 13 to officials of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN).
A source said, “l am currently reaching out to you from Ogboinbiri community. I think we currently have a situation that will interest you now. Just yesterday, another spillage occurred in the community. It happened on a wellhead.
“The gushing has stopped but I just can’t tell when it started. I only met the situation when I was coming back from a function in a nearby village. I met the situation when the company was trying to remedy the situation. Even as that, as of today the spread of the oil is felt everywhere on the river.”
When ERA/FoEN asked the contact to know when it really occurred, he said: “It is possible the spill was ongoing for a while before my arrived the scene, but when l got there it was between 4-5pm.
“The problem now is that the camera might not capture the flow on the river very well; yet even as l am communicating with you now, it is still flowing clearly (on the river).”
Another source said: “I heard it happened but cleanup was done immediately with detergent. They said the army with gunboat was used to seal up the area and asked people to stay clear. Yes, confirmed, it occurred on Well 7 at the cluster entrance.”
This contact was a former community leader of Ogboinbiri, who called home from Yenagoa when ERA/FoEN reportedly reached out to him.
Yet another contact residing in Yenagoa who also called home to confirm informed ERA/FoEN thus: “I confirmed that it was severe yesterday when it flowed from the location to the river. It happened at Ogboinbiri Well 7; confirmed.”
Mr Alagoa Morris of ERA/FoEN said: “While the prompt reaction of the facility owner, Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC), is a good one, every such incident is supposed to be officially made known to the regulators by the oil industry operators.
“It is also known that sometimes operators fail to inform the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and State Ministries of Environment. This might not be an exception, judging from the observed and alleged swift response with detergent.
“From video clip and photos at ERA/FoEN disposal, made available by community contacts, the river still had traces of crude oil this afternoon and the spewing crude oil from the wellhead was with high pressure; as at when it was captured yesterday.
“NOSDRA and the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment should take steps to ensure Agip pays the fine according to the law; if the company failed to duly notify the regulators and trying to dodge responsibility. Also, Agip should do a proper cleanup, give relief materials and, where necessary, compensate victims of the company’s operations.”