The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has confirmed an oil spill from its facility at Agbura-Otuokpoti area of Yenagoa, the state capital.
The company’s media relations manager Bamidele Odugbesan confirmed the incident in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa on Friday.
Mr Odugbesan said the company got a report of the spill on March 31.
“At about 8.30am on March 31, a community surveillance vendor reported a leak on the company’s Joint Venture pipeline at Nun River in Bayelsa.
“Following the development, 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 and impact of the spill,” Odugbesan said.
He, however, said that there was an anonymous note found at the spill site, suggesting sabotage.
Residents, who said the oil workers had yet to come to the site as at Friday, have resorted to scooping oil from water surface into drums.
Daniel Ebitimi, who claimed that crude oil has curative effect on burns and skin diseases, said he collected some kegs, which he hoped to sell.
The predominantly fishing and farming settlements regretted that the leakage discharged large volumes of crude oil into the River, resulting in pollution of the waters.
Collins Jackson, an environmentalist, said the spill was discovered in the early hours of Wednesday, when the people noticed large volumes of crude floating on the river.
Mr Jackson dismissed the company’s claim of prompt response and allegations of sabotage.
He said he visited the site of the leakage with other natives but did not find any oil worker, while crude continued to discharge into the water.
“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 conclusion 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.
“Also, the site is close to the security outpost so the possibility of a vandal gaining access is very slim,” Jackson said.
He said the allegations of sabotage had led to a disagreement among the regulators, communities and state government officials on the joint investigation,” he said.
Chief Don-Evarada Abednego frowned at the alleged insensitivity of the oil firm to the plight of the people in the affected communities.
Abednego described the spill as “life-threatening”, considering that the community lacked basic amenities, such as healthcare facility and portable water.
He, therefore, urged SPDC to urgently provide emergency relief to the people, saying that drinking water from the river posed serious danger to the people’s health.
Also, Alagos Morris, an environmental activist and head of field operations with Environmental Rights Action, pointed out that the response personnel had yet to arrive at the site of the spill.
He called on regulators to rise to the challenge and come up with measures to arrest the situation, in addition to immediate clean-up exercise.