The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has confirmed an oil leak incident from its facility at Agbura-Otuokpoti axis in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa as impacted communities lament the negative impact of the oil discharged by the spill.
Whereas SPDC claims to have responded swiftly, residents say that as at Saturday, spill response was yet to begin.
In a response to a request for reaction on the incident, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, SPDC’s Media Relations Manager said on Saturday that the oil firm got a report of the leak incident on March 31.
“At about 8.30am on 31 March 2021, a community surveillance vendor reported a leak on The Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited (SPDC) Joint Venture pipeline at Nun River in Bayelsa State.
“Following which the facility was shut down and full isolation established at 09.45am.
“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 of the spill and the impact, though there was an anonymous note found at the spill site suggesting sabotage,” Odugbesan said.
The residents say the leakage discharged large volumes of crude oil into the River resulting in pollution of the waters which the predominantly fishing and farming settlements depend on.
Mr Collins Jackson, an environmentalist, the spill was discovered in the early hours of Wednesday, when the people noticed large volumes of crude oil floating on the rivers.
Jackson who dismissed claims of prompt response by the oil firm suggestions of sabotage said that he visited the incident site with members of the community and did not find any oil worker whilst the oil discharge was going on.
“The claim of an anonymous note suggesting sabotage is at best a fallacy because we visited the place immediately our people noticed oil on water and we did not see any note. Why will SPDC jump into conclusions when the investigation has not been concluded?.
“The theory of sabotage is funny because the pipeline is corroded and has signs of loss of integrity due to age, and the site is close to the security outpost so the possibility of a vandal gaining access is very slim.
“The position that the spill might be a sabotage was discarded when we later got to the spill point and the pipeline was found to be corroded and we disagreed that this is clearly equipment failure.
“That is why there is a disagreement that is yet to be resolved amongst the regulators, communities and state government officials working on the Joint Investigation,” Jackson said.
Chief Don-Evarada Abednego, a resident at Otuokpoti condemned the insensitive posture of the oil firm to the plight of the people in the affected communities adding that emergency relief to the people ought to be the priority of SPDC.
He described the spill as ‘life threatening’ since the Community lacks basic amenities such as healthcare facility and portable drinking water adding that drinking the polluted water would jeopardise public health.
Also Alagos Morris an Environmental Activist, and Head of field Operations at Environmental Rights Action who has visited the spill site said that the response personnel claimed to have been deployed were yet to arrive the polluted site.
He described the incident as a major spill, called on regulators to swing into action and contain the situation, and followed with immediate clean up exercise.