28 December 2011

Nigeria: Bayelsa Community Decries Oil Spill

Photo: Vanguard.
An oil spill in Ogoniland (file photo).

Yenagoa — The people of Odioma community in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have decried the effects of the oil spill suspected to emanate from Shell's Bonga Field oil spillage spreading along its coastline at the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

Some fishermen in the Nembe-speaking Odioma community said the discovery of the spills two days ago within the area had made fishing difficult.

Lucky Tema, a fisherman, said, "If you go to the ocean, you would find the thick slick of crude oil floating, tossed here and there by the waves. It is spreading according to the direction of the current. That is what we are seeing even right here at the waterside on St. Nicholas.

"As a fisherman, one of the things I know about this crude oil is that, apart from killing aquatic life, it chases away fishes. If our nets get in contact with the crude oil, it will stain the nets and because of the smell and colour, fishes will notice and avoid such nets in the water. Our efforts are yielding far below expectation these days".

Another fisherman in the area, Ayeomane Ayela, said, "We actually started noticing the crude oil on the Atlantic a week ago. But it came ashore about two days ago. Oil spills affect our fishing and, this one is not an exception. We used to catch enough fish before, but it is difficult now. I go to the ocean almost every day and, since we began experiencing this spill, we have been unhappy.

"I think a responsible government should appreciate our plight and assist us. Because of this situation, we are becoming debtors as we can hardly pay for the fuel we use for our ocean-going boats. We want Shell to clean up the spill and compensate us. Our business has been negatively impacted".

Meanwhile, Mr. Morris Alagoa of the Environmental Rights Action (ERA) has urged the Federal Government to compel shell to state the actual amount of oil spewed from its facilities and reveal the names of chemical dispersants used in fighting the spill.

Shell had last Wednesday announced that 40,000 barrels of its crude had leaked into the Atlantic Ocean from the 200,000 barrels per day from Bonga Deep Offshore Oil Fields which it operates on behalf of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) under a production sharing contract.

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