Group demands remediation of pollution at Shell’s facility in Bayelsa

Environmentalists have urged Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to remediate areas polluted by oil leak from its facility in Yenagoa and Ogbia Local Government Areas in Bayelsa.

The environmentalists under the auspices of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) SPDC said that the leak discharged crude into the Ekole River, a tributary of Nun River.

ERA/FoEN position was made known in its field report signed by Alagoa Morris, the Head of Field Operations at the Bayelsa office of the Non-Governmental Organisation on Tuesday.

It called on the SPDC to embark on a comprehensive remediation of the river and the devastated flora and fauna, while preventing fire outbreak at the spill site.

The incident occurred on March 31, from the SPDC Manifold at Otuokpoti and impacted communities in the Ogbia and Yenagoa Local Government Areas of the state residing near the bank of Ekole River.

The SPDC and the affected communities were still in disagreement over the cause of the spill.

These communities being predominantly fishing and farming communities also dismissed claims by the oil firm that it swiftly mobilised a response team to the impacted site to prevent the spread of crude.

Morris maintained that the people of the areas had the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development as enshrined under Article 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

He further advised that the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) to be conducted on the incident should be devoid of the usual industry politics of predetermined results to be forced into the JIV.

“Shell should carry out proper clean-up of all impacted environment along the Ekole River and around the spill site promptly, no matter the cause of spill.

“All stakeholders, including community representatives in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) should be given a copy of the signed JIV Report at the site in line with industry practice.

“There is the need for relief materials for victims along the Ekole River, no matter the cause of the spill. The innocent must not suffer for the crime of others, where any such spill is declared to be caused by third party.

“Shell should take full responsibility for protection of its facilities. This is even more so as there are revelations that some unscrupulous Shell staff and contractors sponsor third-party interference oil spills,’’ the environmentalist said.

The environmental rights group described as unacceptable a situation whereby industry regulators and facility owners were taking photographs at the spill site and community representatives were prevented from doing same.

“This is more so as the regulators and facility owners never share photos they took at the site with community stakeholders. What is good for the goose is good for the gander,” ERA/FoEN stated.

Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, SPDC’s Media Relations Manager had told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the company got a report of the spill on March 31.

“At about 8.30 a.m. on March 31, a community surveillance vendor reported a leak on the company’s Joint Venture pipeline at Nun River in Bayelsa.

“Following the development, the facility was shutdown and full isolation established at 09.45 a.m.

“The SPDC Oil Spill Response Team was mobilised to the spill site and was able to contain the spill to prevent further spread.

“The Joint Investigation Visit team led by government regulator will determine the cause and impact of the spill,” Odugbesan said.NAN)