Some residents of the Ikarama community in Bayelsa’s Yenagoa Local Government Area are complaining about the negative effects of an oil spill from a nearby oilfield.
The people on Monday advocated remediation of oil pollution from the April 7 leak from Shell’s 14-inch Okordia-Rumekpe pipeline which discharged crude into the ecosystem.
The Okordia-Rumemkpe crude trunkline is part of Shell Petroleum Development Company’s (SPDC) Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP), which transports crude to the company’s crude export terminal in Bonny, Rivers.
According to a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) study obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the leak was caused by equipment malfunction resulting from a rupture on the 14-inch crude delivery line.
JIV is a formal investigation involving the oil company, regulators, host communities, and state environmental ministries into the cause of any reported spill incident.
According to the JIV study, 213 barrels of oil that had no environmental impact outside of SPDC’s right of way leaked from its asset, while approximately 110 barrels contaminated 1.34 hectares of property.
Residents living near the spill site claim that the contamination of soil, air, and lakes in the region has caused them untold misery due to the evaporation of the spilled crude by the scorching sun.
Mr Education Ikiowori, a worker at the Ikarama oilfields who witnessed the JIV, explained that the spill was caused by corrosion.
Shell and regulators had inspected the site, he said, and had excavated the area in search of the cause of the spill.
“They all saw that the rupture was caused by corrosion, yet Shell disagreed.
“Normally, SPDC will always blame the spill on third party so as to avoid responsibility to the land owners, even if they see that it was caused by corrosion.
“For this one, thank God that it was very obvious that it was equipment failure; as the government representatives and regulators and all who were here have confirmed it,” he said.
Residents have been subjected to Shell’s shenanigans, according to Chief Washington Odoyibo, a community leader. Shell has blamed any spill incident on vandalism on an uncountable number of occasions, according to Chief Washington Odoyibo.
“When the spill occurred at this place in November 2019 during the flood, Shell came here and blamed it on sabotage.
“This pipeline is over 40 years, I was a child when they laid this pipe here, but they refused to replace it and it is failing every now and then,” Odoyibo said.
The community leader also scoffed at SPDC’s argument that the 213 barrels of crude had no environmental effects, and wondered if the environment where the 213 barrels of crude leaked was isolated from the rest of the city.
He explained that because of the sun’s high intensity, the leaked crude evaporates into the air, causing a choking sensation that causes coughing and respiratory problems in the people.
He said that the people of Ikarama were in desperate need of medical help due to contamination of the air, water, and soil, as well as relief supplies.
“When our people inhale this, in a short while they can come down with cough. This crude oil can give different kinds of sicknesses; cough, running nose and so on.
“So, this thing is affecting us. Besides that, if we go inside our swamp here; you would see different kinds of dead fishes because of this spill. Fish ponds have been destroyed,’’ he added.
SPDC’s Media Relations Manager, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, who confirmed the leakage, pledged to release a statement on the incident and measures taken to minimize the emission, but has yet to do so.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN