Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), has held divergent views with members of its host communities in Bayelsa on the cause of dead fishes littering the Atlantic coastline near the oil firm’s operations.
Residents along Koluama, Ekeni, Ezetu, Fishtown, Foropa, Sangana axis of the Atlantic coastline in Bayelsa, hosts to CNL had reported sighting dead fishes littering the shoreline, since the middle of March.
Some of the residents said the occurrence was noticed since March 15 and had yet to abate fueling fears of pollution of the country’s territorial waters by toxic substances.
Mr George Ibobra, a community leader and former Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman said in Yenagoa on Tuesday that the source of the pollution was the site of a 2012 well explosion.
Ibobra said that the explosion which resulted in a fire that burnt for 41 days burning down the ill-fated KS Eandeavor oil rig deployed to an oilfield operated by Chevron near the communities was the likely cause of the marine pollution.
He said that the blowout from the oil and gas well was not properly sealed resulting to discharge of mixture of oil and gas leaks impacting adversely on aquatic life.
“The explosion of 2012 left us with incalculable damages that the communities have not recovered from, eight years down the line, our fishermen see bubbles near that rig explosion location showing that there are discharges going on.
“And this is a sad reminder of how Chevron swept the 2012 incident that attracted global attention to Koluama and the visit of the then President of Nigeria under the carpet and later claimed that the incident did not affect neigbouring settlements.
“A scrutiny of the oilfields by the relevant stakeholders will vindicate the position of the communities so we appeal to the oil and gas industry regulators to rise to the occasion and investigate the ongoing bubbling,” Ibobra said
A forum of current CDC Chairmen, hosts to Chevron oilfields in Bayelsa had appealed to the federal and state governments to check the impact of suspected toxic pollution across the Atlantic coastline.
They said that the pollution was a threat to the predominantly fishing settlements and caused hardship to the host communities.
The forum led by it’s Chairman, Chief Captain Patrick Ekubo, and Secretary, Mr Biraladei Brisibe Wuka, said the call became imperative as the oil firms operating in the area had shown no concern.
Wuka, said the strange increased toxicity of the Atlantic ocean is causing concerns for their health.
They urged the oil industry regulators to trace the source of the pollution, while calling on NOSDRA to immediately constitute a Joint Investigation Team to ascertain the cause of the toxic pollution that has endangered their lives.
The communities in Brass and Southern Ijaw LGAs of Bayelsa urged NOSDRA to wrap up the probe within 21 days or risk a total shutdown of oil facilities in the area.
However, Chevron Nigeria, an affiliate of US energy firm which operates oilfields near the communities in a response to requests for reaction said that there were no leaks from its facilities in the area.
Mr Esimaje Brikinn, General Manager in charge of Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron Nigeria Limited denied any links between the alleged pollution and the operations of CNL.
“CNL and Star Deep confirm that there has not been any chemical release from any of our facilities,” Chevron stated.
Mr Idris Musa, Director-General, National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) said the spill agency will commence an investigation as soon as the lockdown for the COVID-19 is lifted.