Oil Producing Community In Nigeria Calls For Quick Intervention As Fresh Oil Spill Erupts

Social lives and economic activities are declining in some parts of Bodo village in Ogoni, Rivers State, an oil producing Niger Delta community of Nigeria following a fresh crude oil spill in the area. The oil spill on the sixty-four years old (1958) Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) was visibly noticed by locals on 2nd August, 2022 but reportedly worsened on 24th of August. This was coming on the heels of the ongoing Clean Up of oil impacted sites in Bodo village and other Ogoni communities in the eastern Niger Delta community of Nigeria as recommended by the UN Environment Programme, UNEP Report.

 Recall that the first-two spillages which were recorded in Bodo in 2008 were both caused by leaks in the same Trans-Niger pipeline that transits an estimated 120,000 – 150,000 b/d of oil through Ogoniland.  A visit to the affected community showed that the locals have cordoned off the Centre point of the leakage and have created a canal in an attempt to prevent the spill from occupying their farmlands and homes. 

 

Mr. Richard Giadom who addressed himself as New Youth Leader of Bodo village, said the spill has taken over their farmlands and houses. He explained that many people from the community have taken refuge in neighboring villages in fear of sudden explosion.

Mr. Giadom said: “You see living houses that are already drained of oil. We cannot cook inside the house so we have to go elsewhere and find refuge. So presently the farmers have been affected”.

Also, an aged woman, Chief Charity Ghana called on the International Community to come to their rescue. She said, “International Community should come and rescue us. I cannot say anything but God knows the best. We are dying now. Our children, everybody in the community are not safe.”

Chief Ghana said she cannot see clearly because of the pollution, saying that the effect is very harsh on them.

Another resident, Mr. Gregory Pronen, said farming and fishing, which are the major occupation of the people, have been hindered by the oil spill.  He called on the Federal Government and the international communities to come to their aide to rescue them from starvation and hardship.

 

Meanwhile; An Internationally recognized non-Governmental Organization in the Niger Delta, Ogoni Liberation Initiative said it is worrisome that the spill is occurring 11 years after UNEP published a report allegedly exposing the SPDC Shell to be responsible for the pollution and devastation of the Ogoni environment after several years of unpleasant oil and gas exploration and exploitation on OML 11, in Ogoni land without benefits to the people.

President of Ogoni Liberation Initiative, Douglas Fabeke while addressing journalists at the site of the oil spillage in Bodo village, said the findings of his team of experts, revealed that the spillage was as a result of Shell activities and system failure of the facilities owned and managed by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).  Dr. Fabeke stated that this ugly incident would not have occurred if the SPDC, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project and the Ministry of Environment had carried out a proper and comprehensive clean-up of Ogoni land in line with the recommendation of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) as contained in the UNEP Report.

He claimed that if the spill of 2nd August, 2022 was immediately curtailed, the reoccurring spill of 24th August, 2022 would not have occurred. 

President of Ogoni Liberation Initiative, Douglas Fabeke therefore called on Shell SPDC, HYPREP put out the spills in order to curtail its spread since the spill occurred as well as commencing a proper remediation of the impacted site and compensation of the people of Bodo in line with global best practices. 

Dr Douglas Fabeke, also called on the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited to immediately come to the aide of the Bodo people and curtail this spill so as to prevent fire outbreak and destruction of lives and properties.

He further advised the people of Bodo Community and Ogoni at large to remain calm as the Ogoni Liberation Initiative will continue to engage Expert and find a lasting solution as Bodo community is part of their agenda to fight for Justice for full environmental and economic restoration in Ogoni as well as the international communities to ensure that the Ogoni environment and its asset are protected from all kinds of devastation and exploitation.

In the meantime, Dr Beiye Briggs, a public health physician and environmental activist has warned against the health implications of the crude oil spill on locals of Bodo village. Dr Briggs said the spill contains toxic chemicals like hydrocarbons which have serious short- and long-term health effects on people who live nearby, marine life, animals, and the surrounding habitat. He said “the hydrocarbon can have access to the human body through three means, by injecting into the body, inhalation and via body contact. Once this chemical finds its way into the human body, it utters the body cell and can lead to diverse kinds of diseases such as cancer of the liver, kidney, heart attack and so many other diseases.

 

Dr Beiye Briggs advised locals to avoid areas where they see or smell the crude oil, avoid any direct skin contact with the oil, and avoid swimming because hydrocarbons find their way to underground water.  He said “it is difficult to give health tips to those living in a polluted environment. I mostly recommend that they leave the polluted sites and be placed on anti-oxidants but when they remain in such an environment, they will find it difficult to have good health.

The medical expert who called on the Government and the appropriate agencies to urgently intervene and salvage the situation.

Spokesperson for Shell, Michael Adande had earlier confirmed the development but said the spill from the Bomu-Bonny section of the SPDC JV’s TNP in Bodo, was largely 98 percent of water from the ongoing flushing of the TNP, with residual crude oil of about five barrels. 

Mr. Adende said that the impact of the spill, both within and outside the SPDC JV right of way was minimal since the TNP has not transported crude oil since mid-June.

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