ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
Environmentalists, under the auspices of Environment Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), have called for an end to frequent oil leaks in communities in Bayelsa State.
They expressed concern about the reported spills at Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) oil fields in Tein community, Biseni, Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The environmentalists made the call on Monday in its field report signed by Head of Field Operations of the group, Mr Alagoa Morris.
The group regretted that several spill incidents which occurred within the Biseni/Asamabiri cluster had yet to be remediated.
The spills are said to be connected to a 14-inch pipeline which evacuates crude oil from the impacted oilfields to NAOC’s facility at Obiobio in Rivers State.
ERA/FoEN noted that the oil company allegedly acted unilaterally as the statutory agencies such as National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and the Ministry of Environment were not invited to witness the fixing of the pipeline.
The group claimed that the Tein people in Biseni who are predominantly fishermen and farmers had been adversely impacted by several oil spills caused by equipment failure over the years without any remedy.
The report indicated: “The operators, Agip, should ensure that they carry the regulators along. That is why we are here today. When we heard that they were coming with Swamp Buggy again, we felt we should follow up on what is happening to the environment.
“We want to join voices with the people, the families and others that Agip should do the needful by coming to ensure that the environment that was polluted by their own crude oil is properly cleaned up.
“Possible remediation should be carried out. That is what we are demanding, a sustainable environment for our people that is what we need.”
Also, a community leader, Chief David Obuma, said overtimes, the clan has suffered a lot of damage from oil companies as they never did any perfect job in their environment.
Obuma stated: “Here, when we hear of any spillage, they will say it is sabotage. Does it mean that the oil cannot be cleaned?
“They always term any oil spill sabotage, meaning somebody must have burst the pipes. Who is the person with no name? So, we are worried.
“Last year around March, there was a spillage in 14 inches pipe beginning from the cluster to Obiobio, in Ahoada, Rivers State. Before the people realised, they came with excavators, without even letting the community leaders and chiefs know that such a thing had happened.
“They covered it up till today. We have written several letters to Agip and they have not done anything. Throughout last year, oil was circulating everywhere in the area.
“They have not even come up with any programme. They kept saying it was an economic sabotage; that somebody must have tampered with it.
However, when contacted, Media Relations official at Eni, the Italian parent company to NAOC, Cioni Marililia, declined comment. He, however, promised to respond soon.