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Oil spillage: ERA knocks NOSDRA, Bayelsa Government over tepid response

The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), and the Bayelsa State Government have come under attack for allegedly failing to act over an oil spill that occurred in Akassa, Brass Local Government Area of the state.

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) lamented the inactions of the regulatory body and the government five months after the spill happened in a facility owned by an indigenous oil company.

The Bayelsa Head of ERA/FoEN, Mr Alagoa Morris, said the devastating incident occurred at the oil firm’s oilfield Well 13 on September 3, 2020, and the oil firm had yet to respond to it up till now despite several complaints.

The chairman of the United Fishing Union of Sangana, Ikonikumo Noel, had cried out that the oil leak destroyed a huge number of different species of fishes and other aquatic lives which were washed ashore the shoreline of Akassa communities.

Morris described the refusal of NOSDRA and the state government to take any action as unfortunate, adding that they had abandoned their responsibilities to the impoverished fishing communities in the area and the environment.

He noted that the environmental rights group was aware that the oil industry regulator and the state government had been duly informed about the oil spillage, but it was surprising that they did not act.

Morris said: “From video clips, photos and related testimonies from community folks, it has been established that there has been an oil spill in the environment.

“And it is unfortunate that neither the facility owners nor any of the regulatory agencies has responded to the incident, even though they have been duly informed by community stakeholders in writing, especially the office of the Bayelsa State Commissioner for the Environment.

“Ordinarily, the regulators should have visited the impacted communities and sites of interest, including the Otuo Field Well 13 to, not only to ascertain the facts and give a sense of belonging to the affected communities but also to ensure that the needful is done by the firm promptly to prevent the further leak of crude oil and related negative impacts on the environment.

“The inaction of NOSDRA and Bayelsa State Ministries of Environment and Mineral Resources leaves much to be desired. They obviously shirked responsibility to the people and the environment.”

He urged the regulatory agency and the state government to prevail on the company to carry out clean-up and provide relief materials and compensation to victims of its operations in Akassa Kingdom’s environment.