Odahiekwu Ogunde, Yenagoa
Crude oil spillage has reportedly occured at Funiwa oilfield operated by Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) in Koluama, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, affecting waters and fishing activities.Fishermen operating in the shallow waters of the Atlantic Ocean near Bayelsa coastline on Sunday reported the leak from the oilfield. The fishermen said on Sunday that they noticed crude on the waters near the oil facility as helicopters were seen overflying the area.A fisherman from the coastal settlement, Mr Tombra Ebitimi, said that he noticed the incident on Saturday night and subsequently reported the development to the community leadership.He claimed that several helicopters had been deployed to the area for assessment as response efforts had yet to commence.Ebitimi said: “Some of us who went for fishing sailed into the oil contaminated area near the Funiwa oilfield and got our nets and fishing gear soaked with crude on Saturday. By today (Sunday), we noticed some helicopters overflying the facility.“It could be that community leaders have informed the company but our concern is that they should not apply toxic chemicals from the sky to dissolve the oil. Those chemicals used to disperse and break down crude is unfriendly to fishes and marine life generally.” He said that fishermen in the area had temporarily suspended fishing to avoid catching contaminated fishes that could jeopardise public health.First Exploration and Production Company, an indigenous oil firm, operates Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 83 and 85, acquired from Chevron following its divestment from some of its assets in the area where it still retains interests in some fields.Officials of Chevron and FEPC have yet to respond to requests for comments on the incident.