Environmentalists, regulators assess oil spill impact in Bayelsa Communities
Environmentalists, oil and gas regulators, have begun preliminary investigations into the January 16 oil leakage near Funiwa offshore facilities, off Atlantic coast, with a visit led by Bayelsa State government officials, and regulatory agencies to the affected communities.
Fishermen around the Atlantic Ocean coastline, on January 17, reported an oil leak suspected to be from Funiwa fields.
However, the operator of the Funiwa field, Chevron, denied responsibility for the leakage.
Chevron, First Exploration and Production (First E& P) and Conoil Producing Limited have operations near the spill location.
An environmentalist and Head of Field Operations, Environment Right Action, Alagoa Morris, who was on the entourage, said the visit was not the statutory Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) that usually follows a spill.
Morris said the trip was a fact-finding mission to assess the level of impact on the people and environment.
Also, a Youth President of Koluama 1, Kiwei Emmanuel, said the team was made up of officials of Bayelsa Ministries of Environment, Mineral Resources, as well as Senior Special Assistant to Bayelsa Governor on Oil and Gas.
He said regulators, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) took samples from sediments for laboratory tests to trace the pollution source.
He said NOSDRA had summoned oil firms operating in the shallow waters, near Koluama in Bayelsa, to identify the source of the leaks.
Director-General at NOSDRA, Musa Idris said the spill regulatory agency would dispatch its officials to the incident site.
Efforts to speak with Bayelsa Commissioner of Environment, Isemea Gbarambiri on why the oil firms operating in the area were not on the trip and what the state government had done to cushion its effect on the predominantly fishing residents, were unsuccessful.
Officials of Conoil and First Exploration and Production were yet to respond to requests for comments on the incident. Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) maintained that reported leaks was not from its facilities and pledged to support regulators in tracing the source.
General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron, Esimaje Brikinn said the oil firm remained committed to tracing the source of the spill, and was part of a joint effort by operators to investigate the leakage.
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