Oil Spill: Environmentalist writes Bayelsa governor, seeks help for impacted community

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Mr Alagoa Morris, an Environmentalist, has written a protest letter to Gov. Seriake Dickson, deploring the poor response to oil pollution incidents in Bayelsa.

The environmental rights activist, in the letter availed to newsmen on Sunday, lamented the state government’s silence on the lingering oil spillage incident at Yiba-Ama community in Ogbia Local Government Area of the state.

Morris, also the project officer and head of Environmental Rights Action Niger Delta Resource Centre, regretted that proceeds from oil derivation accruing to the state were not being channelled to conservation.

The letter, dated May 31, 2017 and titled, “A Case of Gross Negligence, Brazen Act of Corporate Social Irresponsibility (CSI) and Environmental Terrorism Against Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC)”.

The letter was routed through the office of the Commissioner for Environment to gov .Dickson.

It was also copied to the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of the state.

The oil spill occurred in June 2015 from SPDC’s 20-inch Rumuekpe-Kolo Creek Trunkline at Odau community in Abua-Odual Local Government Area of Rivers, and flowed to Yiba-Ama, a border community in Bayelsa.

Morris said that ERA/FoEN had visited the impacted sites six times where swamps, ponds and the general environment of the community had been destroyed.

According to him, SPDC had been allegedly foot-dragging to commence clean-up of the area for the past two years despite public outcry.

“The owner of the oil facility, SPDC, has continued to shirk from its responsibility to effect containment, clean-up and remediation of the impacted sites.

“Shell has done nothing, practically nothing whatsoever, about this nagging issue which has serious implications on the well- being of the environment, health and livelihood of the people of Yiba-Ama community and, by extension, Bayelsa State.

“Other communities along the Kolo Creek are potential victims as the soluble (toxic) elements flow freely downstream via the natural water channels in the impacted swamps of Yiba-Ama community to the Kolo Creek”, he stated.

He added that the company “has not visited the impacted sites at Yiba-Ama even once to assess the level of spread and volume of crude oil in the environment”.

“No matter the cause of spill, facility owners have the responsibility to effect containment (to prevent spread), recovery of spilled crude oil, clean-up and re-mediate impacted environment (as the specific incident may be).

“Your Excellency, we wish to conclude by saying that the people of Yiba-Ama are not only peace-loving folks; they are not engaged in any form of bunkering ( oil theft) activities within the environment”, Morris added.

However, SPDC spokesperson, Mr. Joseph Obari, said that the affected community denied the oil company access to the spillage site which delayed its response.‘’The clean-up and remediation of the impacted creek in Oruma (Yiba-Ama) community was not completed until April 2017, because the community denied our Oil Spill Response Team access to the spill site.‘’The denial of access was despite several engagements of leaders of the community.’’ Obari said.

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