The Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on Shell to immediately clamp its leaking condensate pipeline located at Ekuraba Creek in Otuasega community in Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa State.
The call came after a field visit by a team led by the Programme Manager and Head of the Niger Delta Resource Centre, ERA/FoEN, Comrade Alagoa Morris, visited Otusaga community and the affected pipeline as a follow up to a distress call from a video posted on social media by an indigene of the community, showing a high level of pollution in the Ekuraba creek.
Otuasega hosts Shell’s Kolocreek Logistic Base, Oil Wells where Shell extracts Crude oil/gas daily, Shell’s Kolocreek Tie-In Manifold and pipelines. Like other host communities, Otuasega has experienced some of the negative consequences associated with oil industry induced pollution.
One of the fisher folks living in the Ekuraba fishing camp, who led the community leaders and ERA/FoEN from the spill point downstream (monitoring spread of condensate), Akpobolokeme Odofori, lamented the level of pollution the spill had caused along the Ekuraba creek and its effect on fishing activities in the area.
He said: “Fishing is my occupation and I reside at the Ekuraba fishing camp. For about a week now we are not catching fish as we used to, due to this incident. This morning some persons came are said they want to see where the Kerosene was bubbling and the environment. That was how I volunteered to guide them to this area where much of the spilled substance is gathered.
“The substance looks like Kerosene, diesel and petrol. Due to this pollution we have ceased using our fishing nets on the creek. There are no fishes again as before too. Right now the bubbling has stopped, maybe Shell has shut down the line.”
Responding to questions concerning the spill, a member of Otuasega community, Igbeta James Brown, explained that they were informed about the spill incident by fisher folks residing within the Ekuraba Creek environment a week ago and was duly reported to Shell without any response uptill the date of filling this report.
Also speaking on the spill incident, Beauty Inie Keghe, a non-native but residing at the Ekuraba fishing camp, stated that their children are suffering from ailments associated with the spill, adding that the fisher folks who survive from fishing activities have been subjected to hunger and starvation since the spill started.
She said: “We are suffering since the spill happened in our camp. The water has gone bad. Children are coughing and experiencing cattarrh. The water has been contaminated, fishes are now scarce in the water; we are experiencing hunger. If all the fish in the water are dead, what are we going eat or do? We are suffering and facing hunger. Our husbands are also getting sick. This is the situation in our (fishing) camp now.”
On his part, the CDC Chairman of Otuasega community, Nyamono Ezuzu Sydney, stated that the incessant oil spills have caused a lot of damages to their environment and the people, pointing out that the people depend on the creek for their farming and fishing.
“Every end of year our people come here to do fishing. And because of this spill, I know that it will affect the fishing of this year. Besides some dying presently, most of them (fish) will migrate to other places so I know that it will affect us during the dry season, due to this. So it will affect the economic activity of our people,” he said.
The CDC Chairman faulted Shell for what he described as a nonchalant attitude towards oil spill issues, calling on the government to intervene on the issues.
“Even when the spill started, we tried to reach out to some of them. But up till now they have not come. So we want government to use their strength, because if we go to Shell government would say we are taking laws into our hands.
He also called on Shell to be proactive in its reactions to spills and leakages, adding that they should know it is their responsibility to detects and handle spills.
Reacting to the spill incident in Ekuraba creek in Otuasega community, the Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Chima William, called on Shell to immediately mobilise to site for JIV, with the relevant stakeholders, to ascertain cause of leak or rupture.
He called on the relevant regulatory bodies, especially NOSDRA, to ensure that Shell pays the stipulated fine for failing to notify NOSDRA about the spill within the time frame allowed.
He also demanded that the impacted environment should be immediately cleaned up to prevent further damage to the environment.