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Gas leakage: Bayelsa community residents flee homes

The residents said they had been suffering from air pollution due to the operations of multinational oil companies.

Some residents of Ogboinbiri community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have fled their homes over gas leaks which have polluted the air.

The residents said they had been suffering from air pollution due to the operations of multinational oil companies.

Already, an environmental rights group, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), in a field report, raised concerns over the dangers faced by residents near the Ogboinbiri oilfield being operated by Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC).

ERA/FoEN said the continued pollution by gas leakages and excessive flares had degraded the air quality in the area.

According to the report signed by Mr Alagoa Morris, Head of Field Operations at ERA/FoEN, the safety of residents of Ogboinbiri community has been compromised.

The group, therefore. urged the federal government to conduct an environmental audit or post impact assessment of the community to be funded by the operator of the field.

ERA/FoEN described the Ogboinbiri situation as pathetic due to the intensity of the roaring flares from the two vertical gas flare stacks in the area which sometimes caused panic among the natives.

It further stated that the residents of the area also faced extreme heat, vibration, pollution of their source of drinking water, destruction of roofing sheets, health concerns, among others.

The report reads in part:  “It is unfortunate that people living in a community like Ogboinbiri that is so close to two vertical gas flare stacks burning daily cannot access the medical facility in the community due to the high cost of medical services and drugs.

“The main community where people live is approximately about 600 to 800 metres from the vertical gas flare stacks.

“Ordinarily these victims of Agip’s illegal flaring of gas ought to be given special medical attention and properly relocated within the community environment as is the case with  Finima and the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in Bonny, Rivers State.

“With all the resources taken daily from the community by the  Agip and NNPC joint venture and 13 per cent derivation accruing monthly to Bayelsa State, it is unthinkable that such a community is denied potable water and affordable health facilities. This is alienation by the government and it is simply unjust.”

When contacted, the spokesperson of Eni, the parent company of NAOC, promised to call back our correspondent but was yet to do so at the time of filing this report.

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