Large volumes of crude oil from an oil major have spilled in Ogboinbiri community in the Apoi clan of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, polluting swamps and rivers in the area.
It was learned that the fresh spillage, which took place about two days ago, destroyed the sources of water and the means of livelihood of the people of the riverine community.
The spillage is said to have emanated from a wellhead located in the community and spread within the community and to other adjoining communities.
In June, similar spill which devastated the area occurred and as the community folks were trying to contend with the spill, another one occurred recently.
It has yet to be ascertained what caused the recent spillage, but the members of the community have complained that it is one spill too many.
It was also learnt that the officials of the oil company operating the burst wellhead had been informed and had taken first remedial measure to address the incident.
A community source, who gave his name only as Ebiere, said the spillage happened on a wellhead but that the gushing had stopped as of Monday.
He said, “The gushing has stopped but I just can’t tell when it started. I only met the situation when I came back from a function in a nearby village. I met the situation when the company was trying to remedy the situation. Even at that, the spread of the oil is felt everywhere on the river.”
Another source, who spoke in confidence, said, “l heard it happened but clean-up was done immediately with detergent. They said the army with gunboat was used to seal off the area and asked people to steer clear.
“Yes, confirmed, it occurred on Well 7 at the cluster entrance.”
A foremost environmental group, the Environmental Right Action and Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), said its field officials had visited the scene of crude oil spills.
Bayelsa State Coordinator of ERA, Alagoa Morris, confirmed that as of the time group visited the scene in the evening, the spill was still flowing on the river, noting that the effect of the sun could have melted the crude oil on the surface of the river.
He said a source informed ERA/FoEN that the spill was so severe that it flowed from the location to the river and that it happened at Ogboinbiri Well 7.
He said while the prompt reaction of the facility owner was a good one, every such incident was supposed to be officially made known to the regulators by the oil industry operators.
He stated, “It is also known that sometimes operators fail to inform the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and state ministries of the environment. This might not be an exception, judging from the observed and alleged swift response with detergent.
“From video clip and photos at ERA/FoEN disposal, made available by community contacts; the river still has traces of crude oil during our visit and the spewing crude oil from the wellhead was with high pressure when it was captured on Monday.”
He urged the NOSDRA and the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment to take steps to ensure that the oil firm pays the fine according to the law, if the company failed to duly notify the regulators and trying to dodge responsibility.
He also said the oil company should do a proper clean-up, give relief materials and where necessary, compensate victims of the company’s operations.
He said the firm’s Ogboinbiri flow station is located within the community environment and, the company is extracting crude oil and gas from over 40 functional oil wells there.