Kolo Creek oil spill incident worries farmers
No fewer than 50 farmers impacted by the April 15 oil leak incident from Shell’s Kolo Creek oil fields in Otuasega, Bayelsa have decried damages they suffered from the incident.
Meanwhile, Shell has reached an agreement with People of Bodo Community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, on the modalities and scope to clean up, remediate and the restoration of the environment affected by oil spills in the area.
The farmers said that a Joint Investigation Visit to probe the cause and impact of the spill excluded their farms despite efforts to draw the attention of the team to the impacted areas
The farmers comprising banana and plantain plantation owners and fish pond operators in the area appealed to Bayelsa government to assist them in prevailing on the oil firm to clean up the areas and indemnify them for the losses.
Mrs Florence Ako who owns a plantain plantation opposite the Kolo Creek manifold told our Correspondent at her farm that the crude oil which gushed from the manifold under high pressure spread into her farm and damaged the crops.
“The damage caused by the oil on our farmlands are visible for all to see and this is happening so close to harvest time, look at the fruits and the oil that spread on the fruits have condemned them, nobody can eat anything from it.”
Also MrBadigighaIgbodo said his family owned fish pond and several others were contaminated by the crude spill which wiped out the fish stock and left the ponds floating with dead fishes.
Igbodo said that the spill had destroyed the means of economic sustenance of more than 50 farmers who are still counting their losses following the spill.
Reacting to the development, MrIniruo Wills, Bayelsa Commissioner for Environment said that the state government would verify the reported exclusion of impacted sites.
“We have to look at the information and verify it and if it is true that the impacted area was larger than what was originally captured, we shall find a way of addressing these concerns.
“All parties have a duty to make sure that they are included, nobody can hide under the cover of technicalities to say that a fact that is reality will not be captured.
“We have to look at it and address it one way or the other even if it means paying another visit, another JIV to expand the scope, we cannot leave those people outside the net of justice,” Wills said.
However, Mr Precious Okoloba, Head of Media Relations in SPDC our reporter that the oil firm stands by the report of the JIV report that allegedly excluded vast parts of impacted areas.
“The JIV clearly states the cause and area of impact.
“Under Nigerian oil and gas regulations, the JIV determines the cause and impact of spill incidents. The investigation team which visited the site of the Kolo Creek spill on April 16 concluded that the spill was caused by sabotage,” Okolobo said.
The agreement with Bodo community, which was signed at the weekend in PortHarcourt, was as a result of mediation effort headed by the former Ambassador of the kingdom of Netherlands to Nigeria, Mr. John Groffen , and the National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spills in Niger Delta (NACGOND).
Besides, SPDC has also intensified efforts to promote Health Safety and Environment (HSE) culture in the society.
Groffen told journalists in PortHarcourt after a meeting with the remediation working team that, the move marks an operation which would be the world’s largest cleanup and restoration effort ever undertaken in a tropical mangrove enviroment.
He noted that the shoreline of the creeks in and around Bodo, an area of approximately 1000 hectares are at present, heavily impacted by two oil spills in 2008,for which SPDC has acknowledged responsibility.
He said: “The MOU outlines in detail what has been achieved to date and underlines the firm commitment of both parties to see the important of the process”
“By signing the MOU, the Bodo community and SPDC have successfully concluded the first phase of the mediation process which has recorded a number of concrete result so far”.
Team Leader of Bodo Community, Prof.John Alawa said, the community is quite pleased to note that SPDC has agreed to clean up oil polluted environments and the creeks.
SPDC’s General Manager, Sustainable Development and Community Relations, Igo Weli said, the MOU provides,amongst others,the framework for access to be given to SPDC and agreed contractors to commence the clean-up of the affected Bodo creeks, something the firm has been keen to do.
Besides, the oil multinational has commenced arrangements with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and State governments to reduce road accidents.
SPDC’s Manager, Government Relations, Edesiri Akpomudjere, stated this during the second edition of ‘Safe Routes to School’ a child road safety initiative of the company held at Saint Andrew’s State School, Port Harcourt.
Akpomudjere regretted that, deaths which resulted due to accidents on high ways have killed more people than HIV/AIDS, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and other deadly diseases combined.
“A road accident affects the entire family; not the single individual involved,” he noted
“In Nigeria, we have chatted with the Federal Road Safety Corps, state governments to see how we can reduce carnage on the roads. Children are the most vulnerable as a lot have been wasted by irresponsible and careless drivers,” he said
The Rivers State Government represented by the Permanent Secretary, State Ministry of Education, Minabelem Michael-West, lauded SPDC for the safety project.
He thanked the firm for partnering with the state government on the project, stressing that the project is vital to sustaining the state government’s reformation on schools.
Michael-West said the state government is concerned about the safety of school children after school hours, adding that if nothing is done, the huge investment in providing quality education for children in the state would be in vain.