By Alambo Datonye
Large volumes of crude oil and gas are being discharged into the swamps, farmlands and the Santa Barbara River following a leak from an oil well in Oil Mining Licence 29 Southwest field in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The incident which happened on 1st November this year at the Creeks of Worikuma-kiri, off Opu-Nembe-Bassambiri has led to massive pollution of the river, waterways and communities in the Area.
Operator of the NNPC /Aiteo Joint Venture of OML 29, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO), says it has activated an extensive spillage containment response in addition to distributing relief materials to the affected communities.
It’s about three weeks now since the oil well blow-out at Worikuma-kiri, off Opu-Nembe-Bassambiri in Bayelsa State from a leak from an Oil Mining Licence 29 Southwest field occurred which experts say had been discharging an estimated 100,000 barrels of crude into the waters since November one this year.
A visit to the scene of the spill located in the Creeks which is about 35 minutes by speedboat from Opu Nembe indicate a loud sound from the failed Christmas Tree structure atop the ruptured wellhead with crude oil and gas effluents gushing with alarming speed, spraying the canopy of mangroves, crops, swamps and the Santa Barbara River with the pollutants.
Worse impacted are Worikuma-kiri, arrow-kiri, adamata kiri, sunny-kiri one and two, sand sand village and other fishing settlements and communities as dark and thick yellow substances suspected to be crude oil float along the River into the Atlantic Ocean, as aquatic and marine life are destroyed with dead fishes floating on water.
Landlord of Worikuma-kiri which hosts the well head from where the spill emanates, Chief, Worikuma Ivory- Degi elect, says the crude oil and gas discharge has destroyed his farm and land.
Vice President of Opu Nembe Youths, Mr. Degi Nimofa expressed worry that the spill will have adverse health consequences for the people.
Head of the Bayelsa Field Office of the Environmental Rights Action, Mr. Alagoa Morris maintains that apart from the health hazards from the spills, sources of livelihood had been lost, calling on the company to stop the spill urgently.
The second National Vice President of the Ijaw National Congress, Chief Nengi James asserts that the ecosystem had been altered as a result of the incident, calling on the government to declare it a National Disaster.
Some of the locals and fishermen in the impacted communities and fishing settlement told Radio Nigeria that the spill has brought untold hardship to them.
In a reaction, Spokesman for the Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO), Operator of the of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 Mr. Ndiana Matthew says it is currently containing the spill and promptly called for a Joint Inspection Visit to ascertain the cause of the spill while distributing relief materials to the communities.
For now, experts say there is need to deploy sufficient oil spill containment and cleanup equipment and personnel to contain the spilled hydrocarbon polluting the Santa Barbara River, Swamps and lands in Nembe.