By Nathan Nwakamma
Yenagoa, May 4, 2020
The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) said on Monday that the dead fishes floating on the Niger Delta coastline had nothing to do with its operations.
Residents along the Atlantic coastline in Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom have reported massive death of croaker fish species since February, raising concerns of increased toxicity of the territorial waters.
An environmentalist, Mr Furoebi Akene, had alleged that the dead fishes littering the Niger Delta coastline were caused by the discharge of toxic chemicals from Shell’s operations at Ogulagha in Delta.
SPDC in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said its activities had nothing to do with the dead fishes found in the Niger Delta coastline.
According to the statement signed by Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, SPDC’s Media Relations Manager, there was no oil leakage from its activities linked to the dead fishes.
Odugbesan said that Shell was supporting the Delta Government in investigating the cause of the massive death of fishes as well as participating in ongoing joint investigation by oil industry regulators.
“The SPDC hereby clarifies that there is no release of dangerous, toxic or chemical substances from its operations at the Forcados oil terminal or from its facilities in Ogulagha or any part of the Niger Delta where the company operates.
“Relevant government agencies are already investigating the alleged `fish kill incident’ along the coastline in the Niger Delta and SPDC is supporting the investigations.
“The Nigeria Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) was widely reported to have clearly stated that there is no evidence that oil and gas operations may have impacted the aquatic environment as being claimed in respect of the `fish kill incident.’
“On our part, we are working with the relevant government agencies and the Delta State Ministry of Environment in the investigation of the allegation.
“We have conducted a joint investigation visit to the coastline, samples have been collected and testing is ongoing in accredited laboratories,” Odugbesan stated.
Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA, had told NAN that the agency found no connection with oil spills to the dead fishes and was looking at other probable causes.
Musa told NAN that NOSDRA was coordinating a multi-agency investigation aimed at unraveling the cause of the massive death of fishes within the nation’s territorial waters and was looking beyond oil spill.
He said other regulatory agencies with mandates of safety in the maritime space, were deploying their expertise in the ongoing investigation, assuring that the process was being carried out with best practices.
“The death of fishes in large numbers makes it expedient to look beyond oil spillage as the likely cause, as we found no trace of oil leakage to link with the dead fishes.
“The agency proceeded to collect samples of water, sediments and some of the dead fishes for laboratory testing.
”In doing so, the agency brought onboard other relevant agencies of government that have mandate on our territorial waters.
“In particular, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Federal Institute of Fisheries Research and National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA).
”All hands must be on deck in assessment of the possible cause or causes of death of the fishes in such large numbers,” Musa said.