28 December 2011

Nigeria: Shell Oil Spills Spread to Delta Communities

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

Warri — The crude oil volumes that spilled from Bonga deepwater field has started arriving the coastal communities in Niger Delta, sparking off a spate of public outcry over the dreaded impact on the fragile environment.

Consequently, people of Delta state communities have called on the federal government and Shell to take immediate steps to halt the spill to avoid further damage to their land and sources of water.

The development came as officials of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) arrived at the area yesterday to verify the claims and take samples of the sludgy surge to the coasts.

Shell had reported spill of 40, 000 barrels or 6.5 million liters of crude oil from operated Bonga oilfield located 120 kilometers offshore Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

While government and all the operators in the petroleum industry battle the spill to minimize its impact on the environment, National Oil spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) said the crude oil would hit the Niger Delta coasts as from last weekend.

Some inhabitants of some communities in Burutu local government area of delta state had complained of a heavy flow of substance suspected to be crude oil into their territory.

A team from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, who arrived at Warri from Lagos yesterday, went straight to the creeks of Delta State to ascertain the impact of the Bonga oil spill had taken samples of the substance for laboratory analysis.

Deputy Director of NMASA, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, who led the delegation to Beniboye, one of the alleged affected communities in Burutu local government area of Delta State, urged Shell to rush to the area to contain the spill.

He said: "At this particular point in time, we definitely know that there is a spill in the area, but however, Shell did do what they can to contain that particular spill, we do have some more spills offshore area around the Beniboye community of Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State and we have taken samples of that oil, but we cannot at this particular point in time confirm whether it is from the Bonga Oil Spill or not, only a scientific analysis will determine this case.

"But from what our team has just seen, it is appalling, it is not very good to see and as you can see, we are here and the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi was very concerned hence he sent this particular team to go out there and see things for ourselves and probably at some points, bring pressure on the people responsible and possibly we all join our efforts to do something so that the communities in the area do not suffer beyond what they are likely to face at the moment," he stated.

Responding to a question, Captain Enisuoh who was also accompanied by Marine Environment Team said: "My report is that, we have to do something as soon and as quick as possible before it goes beyond what we have found because the oil in the area we are not going to under estimate the ecological and economic damage it will cause and so we will use this medium to appeal that something is done immediately.

"Shell knows the situation on ground at the moment. I was with the Managing Director of Shell few days ago and he was quick to instruct his officials to clean up any oil in the area irrespective of whether it was from Shell or not which was a very good move and I must commend him for that.

"Like I have said, this one that we have found which is currently threatening the Coast at the moment has to be dealt with immediately and it will not be right to go for or blame somebody. I think the effort should concentrate on fixing the situation as soon as possible."

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