Residents of Ekole Creek in Bayelsa, on Wednesday reported a massive oil leak from an oil field operated by Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in the state.
Ekole Creek is around Agbura and Otuokpoti communities in Ogbia and Yenagoa local government areas respectively. They said the spill resulting from the leak destroyed farmlands and aquatic lives in the communities. The residents said that crude oil deposits from the spillage measured about five centimeter thick on the surface of the water.
The incident caused some of the residents to troop out to scoop the flowing crude oil. A resident of Otuokpoti community, Mrs Cecilia Osain said the spillage had negatively affected fishing activities in the river. According to her, those who went fishing came back with no catch as the crude oil has scared the fish, crayfish and shrimps away into the high sea beyond the reach of artisanal fishermen.
Osain, who also scooped the crude, said bathing in the river is no longer safe for residents as those who did complained of itching all over their bodies. She said that the community relied on the creek for drinking water and for domestic use.
Meanwhile, the people of Otuokpoti community have appealed to the government of Bayelsa to provide relief materials to ameliorate the plight of the people. In a letter signed by their Paramount ruler, Chief Cousin Wongo and Chairman, Community Development Committee, Simpson Isikpi, the community noted that the spillage polluted the entire river.
According to the letter, the incident has negatively affected the economic life of the people as the river serves as a major source of income to members of the community. “We cannot drink water, we cannot bathe in the river, our aquatic life such as fish and animals are dying.
“We appeal to the relevant authorities to come to our aid,” the letter read in part. They also appealed for the immediate clean-up of the river to enable the people resume their fishing activities. Speaking in the same vein, spokesman of the youth wing of the Ogbia Brotherhood, Lamawal Wilfred called on operators of affected pipeline to send experts to ascertain the cause of the leak.
He urged NAOC to prevent further pollution of the river which serves as their major source of water. Residents were seen scooping crude into containers, while the whole air was polluted by the gas from crude oil.
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