Officials of the Bayelsa State Government have led some environmentalists and officials of the Ministries of Minerial Resources, Minstry of Environment and National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to the site of the last week massive oil spillage in Koluama community in Southern Ijaw Area of the State.
According to the officials of the State Government, the visit is to assure the Impacted communities of Government effort to ascertain the source of the spillage, the extent of the spillage and the damaged on the livelihoods of the people following the 16th of January oil spill near Funiwa offshore facilities off the Atlantic coast.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Bayelsa Governor on Oil and Gas, Mr. Timi Seimiebo, who led the team on the visit, urged the agitated people of the Koluama community to remain calm and that samples taken from the site of the spillage will be sent for laboratory analysis to determine the identity of the oil exploration company responsible for the spillage.
According to Seimiebo, “Once the sample have been tested and the identity of the company known, we will ask them to stand up to their responsibility as an oil company.”
Also Speaking, an environmentalist and Head of Field Operations, Environment Right Action, Comrade Alagoa Morris explained that though the visit was not the statutory Joint Investigative Visit (JIV), the trip was a fact finding mission to assess the level of impact on the people and environment.
“The visit was an assessment trip to see things and suggest the way forward given the fact that no oil company has owned up, it cannot be a JIV because no oil company was represented so we shall submit an interim report to guide further action,” Morris said.
Also Mr Kiwei Emmanuel, Youth President of Koluama 1, one of the worst hit areas by the spillage said the regulators, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) took samples from the sediments at the coastline for laboratory tests to trace the source of pollution.
Emmanuel said that members of the team also saw heaps of fishing nets, fishing gear and accessories destroyed by the oil leak, and traced the spread of the crude along the coast into the creeks and mangrove vegetation.
You will recalled that the controversial oil spillage which occurred last week in the Koluama community of Bayelsa State has triggered controversy following the statement by Chevron Oil Company that they were not responsible for the spillage as earlier claimed by the indigenes of the community.
While Chevron Oil limited owned Funiwa oil platform in the area, the Conoil limited is the owners of Auntie Julie oil platform in the area.
The massive oil spillage, which had further spread across over seven kilometers, since it occurred on the 16th of January, 2021, it has affected the aquatic life of the people of the area with dead and rotten fishes being washed ashore and livelihood of the koluama indigenes, which is predominantly fishing, halted.
The Chairman of the KEFFES Rural Development Foundation, Mr. Mathew Sele-epri, who also confirmed the development, said he was alerted at about 6pm about the spillage and he immediately called the major operators in the area, but the source of the spillage was not immediately confirmed.
“As at the time of taking a boat ride long the affected parts of the waters, dead fishes were noticed floating along the shoreline of the sea. And I noticed that the ecosystem is being damaged and aquatic life of the people grossly affected.”
Some Elders of Koluama community including Chief Young.S.Goli and Chief Anderson Bolubo also confirmed the oil spillage, urging the relevant agencies to compel oil company responsibke to immediately start mopping up activities by sending relief materials and medical supplies to the people of the area.
While Chief Bolubo expressed concern that the agitated youths of the community are threatening to shut down exploration activities of oil companies in the area if immediate remediation is not started.
Chief Young Goli said though past interaction between the community and oil companies have not yielded any positive actions, ”And we want them to come and talk to the community. We don’t want mediators.”