Fresh oil spill from Shell facility pollutes Okulu River in Rivers States

…Renders fishermen jobless

*Oil-polluted River

Mkpoikana Udoma

Port Harcourt — Over 300 registered fishermen have been rendered jobless following a fresh oil spill from a facility operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC, which has polluted the Okulu River in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.

According to locals, the oil spill became noticeable last Sunday on the Okulu River, which runs through several communities in the local government area, including Akpajo, Aleto and Agbonchia, to mention only a few.

The chairman of Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mr Obarilomate Ollor, while inspecting the spill site, said preliminary observations showed that the spill was caused by equipment failure.

Ollor, who accused SPDC of not showing concern so far over the development,

called for calm among the affected communities while expressing optimism that the right steps will be taken to restore the environment

“We have discussed on phone with the people who are managers of the pipeline in Shell. They are yet to be here, however, whenever they come for a JIV (Joint Investigative Visit) and the cause of the spills will be ascertained by them. We already know this (spill) is not sabotage, but let them come for a JIV and let’s look at it together and agree on what caused the spill.

“Our people are aggrieved, the youths are angry, especially those who would have gone for fishing today, are all stranded and they don’t have other jobs, because they survive from fishing.

“All the business activities that go on around this river has been shut down because of the oil spill, so it’s a great loss and a bad day for Eleme people. I feel bad, but as a government, we are going to cooperate with the company because this was not pre-planned,” the Eleme Council boss said.

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Similarly, the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre, YEAC-Nigeria has cautioned against exposing the Ogoni environment to fresh oil spills, especially since HYPREP was already struggling to carryout the clean-up of oil impacted sites in Ogoniland.

Executive Director of YEAC-Nigeria, Mr Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, who described the fresh oil spill as one too many, said: “We expected NOSDRA to have determined by now the cause of the spill and the volume through a JIV.  If it’s established that the spill is from equipment failure, then Shell should move in quickly to contain the spill, remediate the area and compensate the affected communities.

“Since Shell is divesting from onshore, one would have thought that they will take steps to manage their pipelines which are now bursting like balloons as a resulting obsoleteness from multiple years of operation, without being replaced.

“Shell should ensure that further spills are not happening in Ogoni area, cause it is affecting the people, devastating the ecosystem and contributing to the already polluted environment which HYPREP is trying to clean up.”

Meanwhile, the management of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited is yet to make a formal reaction on the oil spill, as at the time of filing this report.

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