Ten Ijaw communities in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, are currently on the neck of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC over massive oil spill from the Corporation’s pipeline.
In a letter dated Wednesday, September 7,2016, the communities petitioned the Delta State government alleging that a massive crude oil spill is ravaging their environment.
Representatives of the communities in a letter to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, accused NNPC of paying deaf ears to the spill.
The representatives said the spill, which occurred on August 17, 2016, was traced to a crude oil trunk line from the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), the products marketing and distribution subsidiary of the NNPC.
According to them, the pipeline runs through the affected communities- Tebujor/Okpele-Ama, Ikpokpo, Okerenkoko-Gbene, Opuedebubor, Opuede, Opuendezion, Atanba, Oto-Gbene, Meke-Ama Communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom, along the Escravos River in Warri South West Local Government Area of the state.
The communities accused the PPMC of not carrying out a proper joint investigation of the incident by a properly constituted team comprising representatives of the community, NNPC, Department of Petroleum Resources and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency,NOSDRA.
“Instead, PPMC brought in military men to chase away villagers without carrying out a proper joint investigation of the incident to identify and stop the source of the spill as well as carry out effective remediation and compensate to the affected communities and people,” the communities said in a letter to Mr. Akowa.
The letter dated September 6, 2016, was signed by Yebrade Moses, Godwin Akori, Ebilowei Tortor and Braye Fredrick on behalf of the affected communities.
The communities accused both the NNPC and PPMC’s of negligence in taking steps to stop the spillage and the damage to fishing nets, properties of the people and the environment.
“Villagers who rely on fishing along the river for survival can longer do so as a result of the effects of the oil spillage which has polluted the entire area,” they said.
They also said similar incidents had occurred on the same PPMC trunk-line on three occasions this year: in January, April and May, due to equipment failure.
They appealed to the state governor to prevail on the PPMC to carry out a proper investigation of the incident, stop further spill, take steps to remediate the environment and pay compensation to the affected people and communities.
They also asked for relief materials to be sent to the communities to cushion the immediate effect of the spillage on the people to save them from starvation.
Speaking on the occurrence, the NNPC spokesperson, Garba Deen Mohammed, said what happened was not an oil spill, but a leakage from one of the products tanks following a burst pipeline from the PPMC facility in the area.
Mr. Mohammed said immediately the incident occurred, the relevant personnel were mobilised to contain the leakage without any casualty and damage to the environment.
“The incident was not as a result of an attack. It was a mechanical fault that resulted in a burst in one of the tanks. Since the leakage has since been stopped, the incident has been reported to the relevant agencies, while a proper investigation is ongoing,” he said.