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Environmental group condemns Shell for poor response to oil spill incident at Adibawa Oil field

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By NAN on January 2, 2016

An Environmental Rights group has condemned what it called the ‘slow response of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to the oil spill incident of July 12,2015 at the Adibawa Oil field, operated by the company.

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) made the condemnation in its field report on the oil field, a copy which was made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa on Saturday.

The group regretted that more than six months after the oil leak incident was reported, oil recovery was yet to be completed, exposing the environment to continued pollution by spilled crude.

The report quoted residents of the affected communities as seeking the intervention of state and Federal government to save their environment from further degradation.

It would be recalled that SPDC had said that the oil leakage from its Adibawa Well 8, located in Edagberi community of Rivers, was caused by thieves who targeted the Well Head.

ERA/FoEN observed that the response of SPDC had fallen below standard and therefore urged the oil firm to live up to the expectations of international best practices.

“It is very sad and unfortunate that this double standards in cleaning spill impacted environment is still being applied by SPDC in the Niger Delta Region

“ERA was indeed shocked to observed the volume recovered into improvised rubber containers and what was still left un scooped or pumped out from the impacted environment.

“Surely, these items pointed to the fact that some recovery job has been on, but the extent and seriousness becomes the question.

“Tree trunks told a familiar tale; they said the truth about levels the Crude oil was elevated to during the flood as the dark marks are very visible on all plants of certain height within the impacted area.

“Those below certain height were all destroyed; as the impacted environment is now without undergrowth; all wiped out,” the ERA/FoEN report stated.

The group further advised the oil industry regulators, state ministries of environment, to intensify its surveillance and monitoring roles to safeguard the environment around oil fields

A statement from SPDC Spokesman Joseph Obari, shorly after the incident in July 2015, had attributed the delay to an investigation of a leak at Adibawa- well-8 in the Eastern Niger Delta, where a suspected attempt to steal the wellhead led to a spill.

The oil firm also alleged that members of its host community were thwarting the efforts of the oil firm to contain the leakage and address the damage done to the polluted environment.

However, Chief Sunny Jacob Ubele, Paramount ruler of Edagberi community told NAN that the allegations that the community denied SPDC access were false.

He said that the community cooperated with officials of the oil firm but expressed reservations when Shell officials attempted to manipulate the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) procedure.

“It is very untrue that we denied them access; if we did how did they manage to stop the spill?; they had fixed a JIV on our meeting day and we told them to fix it for the next day.

“When we got there with them, we found out they went to the site unilaterally and tampered with the evidences that would assist in arriving at conclusions, so we told them that we were excluded from that exercise.

“We pointed out to them that what they did constituted a JIV without community and so we declined to sign the JIV reports because we were not part of it and the JIV was inconclusive,” he said.

Reacting to the alleged prolonged delays in recovery of spilled crude, Mr Precious Okolobo, SPDC’s Head of Media, told NAN that exercise was still in progress.

“SPDC stopped the leak from Adibawa well-8 as soon as we became aware of the incident and also repaired the wellhead.

“However, challenges with access have delayed the conclusion of the joint investigation visit to determine the cause of the leak. The Ahoada West Local Government Council has since waded into the matter.

“SPDC secured access only for recovery of spilled oil and this exercise is well in hand. We are hopeful for unfettered access to the spill site so we can conduct clean-up and remediation.” Okolobo said.

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