Chevron, host communities differ on cause of massive death of fishes off Bayelsa coast [ARTICLE]

Some of the residents said the the incident became obvious since March 15 and had yet to abate fueling fears of pollution of the country’s territorial waters as a result of the dead fishes.

Mr George Ibobra, a community leader and former Community Development Committee (CDC)Chairman told News agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa on Wednesday that the source of the pollution was actually due to a well explosion in 2012.

Ibora said that the explosion, which resulted in a fire that burnt for 41 days, destroying the ill-fated KS Eandeavor oil rig deployed to an oilfield operated by Chevron near the communities was the likely cause of the marine pollution.

He said that the blowout from the oil and gas well was not properly sealed resulting to discharge of mixture of oil and gas leaks impacting adversely on aquatic life.

“The explosion of 2012 left us with incalculable damages that the communities have not recovered from, eight years down the line, our fishermen see bubbles near that rig explosion location showing that there are discharges going on.

“And this is sad reminder of how Chevron swept the 2012 incident that attracted global attention to Koluama and visit of the President of Nigeria under the carpet and later claimed that the incident did not affect neighbouring settlements.

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“A scrutiny of the oilfields by the relevant stakeholders will vindicate the position of the communities, so we appeal to the oil and gas industry regulators to rise to the occasion and investigate the ongoing challenge,” Ibobra said.

NAN recalls that a forum of current CDC Chairmen, hosts to Chevron oilfields in Bayelsa had appealed to the federal and state governments to check the impact of suspected a toxic pollution across the Atlantic coastline.

They said that the pollution was a threat to the predominantly fishing settlement and caused hardship to host communities.

The forum led by its Chairman, Chief Captain Patrick Ekubo and Secretary Mr Biraladei Brisibe Wuka, said the call became imperative as the oil firms operating in the area had shown no concern.

Wuka said the increased toxicity of the Atlantic ocean was a cause of concern to them, especially on their health.

They urged the oil industry regulators to trace the source of the pollution, while calling on NOSDRA to immediately constitute a Joint Investigation Team to ascertain the cause of the toxic pollution that had endangered their lives.

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The communities in Brass and Southern Ijaw LGAs of Bayelsa urged NOSDRA to wrap up the probe within 21 days or risk a total shutdown of oil facilities in the area.

However, Chevron Nigeria, an affiliate of U.S. energy firm which operates oilfields near the communities, responding to the allegations, told NAN that there were no leaks from its facilities in the area.

Mr Esimaje Brikinn, the General Manager in charge of Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron Nigeria Ltd., denied any links with the alleged pollution with the operations of it oil firm.

“CNL and Star Deep confirm that there has not been any chemical release from any of our facilities,” Chevron stated.

Mr Idris Musa, the Director-General, National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) said the spill agency would commence an investigation as soon as the lockdown for the COVID-19 is lifted.

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