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Bayelsa community seeks clean-up as oil spill pollutes rivers, farmlands

Villagers in Peremabiri community, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State are experiencing untold hardship as oil spill from the facility operated by Shell…

Villagers in Peremabiri community, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State are experiencing untold hardship as oil spill from the facility operated by Shell Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has polluted their rivers, creeks and farmlands.

Members of the community are therefore calling for a quick clean-up to save their lives and livelihoods.

Aside from the damage caused to the natural environment of Peremabiri, the sources of water have also been polluted, thereby leaving the people in dire need of drinkable water.

Daily Trust gathered that the spill discharged crude oil into the river killing fish and impacting negatively on the livelihoods of fishers. The same impact is felt on the farmlands, with the sludge covering and destroying agricultural produce.

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The people of the area derive their livelihoods from the farms and rivers as they are predominantly fishermen and farmers.

The oil leak, said to occurred from a burst pipeline from the Diebu Creek Flow station operated by SPDC located at Peremabiri town, has already discharged a yet-to-be-ascertained volume of crude oil into the river.

According to residents of the community, the incident occurred on October 3, 2023 from a pipeline under the river operated by multinational giants, Shell Petroleum Development Company, and that it has been discharging large volume of crude into the natural environment.

Speaking on the incident, the Youth President of Peremabiri Community, Mr Benjamin Ibinibo and one of the affected farmers, Mrs Yenimi Timipre, told newsmen that the spill at the Diebu Creek has wreaked havoc on the water and crops, and urged SPDC to ensure proper cleanup of the area.

The assistant women leader in the community, Favour Morgan and the chairman of the Community Development Committee, Mr Basil Young, lamented that despite oil exploration and exploitation activities in Peremabiri since the late 1950s, the town lacks basic amenities and has continued to suffer the effects of spills.

The Programme Manager of Environmental Rights Action and Head of the Bayelsa office, Mr Alagoa Morris, said it was unfortunate that the multinational company has yet to reach out to the community and clean up the spill weeks after it occurred.

Morris, who is also the Technical Adviser to the Bayelsa State Governor on Environment, commended the peaceful disposition of the affected community, urging the regulatory agencies to ensure that the oil company immediately carries out the required cleanup to save indigenes of Peremabiri from economic and health challenges.

Peremabiri, which is located along the bank of River Nun, is one of 13 settlements that make up the Bumo clan in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

It used to play host to the Irrigated Rice Farm Project established by the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority in 1962, then projected to be the largest rice farm in West Africa.

The town, which has about 16 oil wells, is the location of the Diebu Creek Flow station operated by the SPDC which injects crude oil into the Trans Niger Pipeline.

An underwater oil spill since October 3 this year is at the moment discharging volumes of crude, polluting the creek and the Nun River, swamps and farmlands, causing hardships to the predominantly fishing and farming town.

The spokesman for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), Mr Michael Adande, who confirmed the incident in a statement, said a government-led joint investigation team, including the operator and community representative is currently on a joint visit to the site of the incident to determine the cause and the impact of the incident.

Daily Trust observed that in an incident of oil spill, a multi-stakeholder team, led by the Nigerian Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) is required by law to conduct a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) to the site of any spill in Nigeria as soon as possible after a spill has been identified and containment measures taken.

The NOSDRA Act also provides that the agency shall act as the lead agency in all matters relating to oil spill response management and liaise with the other agencies.

The joint investigative team, which includes other appropriate government agencies, community representatives and oil company representatives, will visit the oil spill site to investigate and determine the cause, impact, scale of spill etc. The resulting JIV report to be signed by all parties present and the report will form the basis of any post-incident decisions and actions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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