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TENSION IN BAYELSA AS OIL SPILLS HIT COMMUNITIES

By NBF News

Tension is mounting in Ikarama in the Yenagoa Local Government Area as two major oil spills hit the community spreading over 400 metres of farmland and river that flows to six other communities in the area.

Already, the people of the community have sent a Save-Our- Soul (SOS) message to the state and federal governments demanding a probe of the incident.

Environmental experts attached to the Yenagoa office of the Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) said the first spill occurred on June 4, while the latest happened on June 23. According to the Head of the Yenagoa office, Mr. Alagoa Morris, who visited the spill site, officials of Shell were on hand to stop the spill when it first occurred on June 4 but there 'were no signs that a Joint Investigation Visit and report will follow the event as required by law.'

Alagoa explained that the latest spill occurred along the Trans-Niger Rumuekpe trunk line on June 23 in the community.

He disclosed that the volume of the spill was well over a thousand barrels and had spread over 400 metres into farmlands and other parts in the area.

A widow, Mrs Grace Ayerizima, whose land was affected lamented that Shell officials came to the spill site with armed soldiers and refused to talk to victims of the spill.

'This is how SPDC has been intimidating our people with soldiers. In fact, when they come for clamping, they will chase us away and will not allow us get close to the spot. The soldiers will order us to leave the place and not come near. And one fundamental thing SPDC refuses to understand is that the land belongs to us.'

Alagoa alerted that the crude oil from the spill was fast spreading to adjoining communities and may enter the Taylor Creek which could spell doom for the people of the area.

''SPDC and its contractors should not be only investigated in relation to the series of oil spillages but penalized for ignoring the need for JIV and clamping points without a JIV with the intention to hide facts and deny people justice,' he said.

'It is not enough for SPDC to claim that over 90 per cent of oil spills on its facilities were sabotage-related. Other stakeholders should also have the record and confirm. The importance of JIV report in terms of cause of spillage, volume of spill, damages and related recommendations makes this very critical.'