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Uneasy Calm In Bayelsa Over Oil Pollution, Community Fingers Shell

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There is a palpable air of uncertainty in Ikarama community, Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State over oil spill sites that are posing risks to the health of the area.

Field Monitoring Officer of Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Morris Alagoa, who made this known to Naija News in a telephone chat, says there is an uneasy calm in the area.

Oil and gas super major, Shell, is being accused of alleged improper cleanup and non-remediation of oil spill impacted sites in community environment since last August.

Boiling community Youth President, Glitter Ziah, is alleging that ‘’several times when oil spills occur, Shell refuse to come and do remediation. They will only select narrow area of the impacted environment to work on, while the crude oil impacted extensive areas.

‘’Their contractors will then say they have done the needful and proceed to taking photographs and video clips which are taken to Shell and that is all.

‘’But when our mothers go to farm in the impacted environment and dig with a view to planting crops; crude oil will gush out. It is still the same thing at the moment.’’

Ikarama youths, according to him, are demanding that Shell should do a proper remediation of spill sites comprehensively and not selected spots.

Continuing, he said, ‘’our people are suffering, as water and crude oil are coming out from the ground in most places in our environment when our people dig the ground for farming activities.

‘’Very recently when my mother harvested cassava in her farm, the colour of the cassava tuber changed because of the crude oil. It is damaging our system. ‘’Shell should come to Ikarama and do a proper remediation, in the entire spill-impacted environment of our community’’.

For the immediate past youth president, Benjamin Warder, ‘’there are signs of fresh excavation. It was done on April 26, 2022. Initially I brought an excavator to prepare a fish pond last year.

‘’As the excavator dug, we discovered high level of hydrocarbon presence, crude oil which gushed out of the soil as a result of oil spills in our environment. This goes a long way to show that the entire environment is polluted.

‘’A lot needs to be done to revive our environment. Behind my fish pond that was excavated recently, there is high hydrocarbon content in it. We are advocating that for one to make use this land for productive ends, the oil company needs to do something about the land being polluted. I had the intention of creating livelihood for myself.

‘’That was the reason why I brought the machine. The way the situation is, there is no way fish can grow in our community. Cassava and cocoyam farms around are seriously affected.

‘’Plantains that were planted over a year ago are stunted, not doing well. There are lots of liabilities the oil companies are leaving behind. Now they are talking about divestment. If they are divesting who is going to bear these liabilities?

‘’These are the questions. So, we are calling on every responsible agency of government and civic groups to come to our assistance. As it is now, it is like more or less a wasted effort for me; putting resources and efforts together.’’

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