The Aiteo OML 29 Well 1 platform facility failure that has resulted in the ongoing oil spillage into Santa Barbara River for over 34 days in Nembe Local Government Area in Bayelsa state is better described as “environmental terrorism”. The impact to the environment, lives on water and livelihood generally is huge; unfortunately, there is not comprehensive onsite response, beyond the usual rhetoric, to mitigate the spill.
In line with our intervention at ensuring environmental justice, @SING Nigeria was part of the team that visited the site to have a first-hand assessment of the impact of the spill, and it’s unfortunate that government and Aiteo have not done much to subdue the endless oil gush.
NORSDRA officials that are supposed to be on ground, we were told went for “lunch break” for the entire 30-45 minutes of our onsite assessment of the spill location, and this only tells the Nigeria story.
This is unacceptable anywhere in the world. For over 34 days, crude oil has been spilling unmitigated, and all the government could offer is the usual rhetoric and propaganda of “working round the clock” to stop the flow.
The impact of this spill on livelihood of the people of Nembe, and indeed the entire state, who are mostly fishermen and farmers is better imagined. Throughout our over 2-hour journey down to the spill site, one could evidently see crude oil on waters, and the level of damage to natural environment.
Indigenous people have lost all hopes in their source of livelihood, as you scarcely see them with their usual canoes out for fishing.
The oil has also destroyed farmlands, and farmers are not spared from the impact of the unabated spills in the region, and it’s quite unfair that a people that the nation feeds from resources gotten from their land are left to suffer this magnitude of environmental disaster.
What about the economic loss to Nigeria state? It has been estimated that about 2 million barrels of crude oil approximating $138,980,000 (57,010,985,800 billion naira) have so far been wasted, and there is no definite end in view.
The health implications of these spills are also damning; exposure have been found, according to Amazon Frontline to cause “respiratory damage, liver damage, decreased immunity, increased cancer risk, reproductive damage” and all manner of new health challenges that are completely strange to the people of the region.
We call on Aiteo and government to urgently remedy this flow, while a comprehensive damage assessment is instituted to clean up the entire state. This must not be another “Ogoni Clean-up” story that has yet to see the light of the day after several years.
It is hoped that government and Aiteo would indeed take full responsibility and adequately compensate victims of this environmental misfortune.