Members of Ikarama community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa have decried the pollution of Oya Lake by the oil drilling operations of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
They accused SPDC of carrying out improper clean-up of the lake that was polluted by an oil spill which occurred from the company’s Ikarama-Rumuekpe pipeline.
Ayibatari Francis, who spoke on behalf of the community, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa on Tuesday that the crude oil which leaked into the lake had adversely affected aquatic life in the lake.
He called on the oil firm to urgently initiate the cleanup the lake, adding that it was the only source of drinking water for the residents and their means of livelihood, as they were mostly fishermen.
“This is a lake where we fish; we also drink water from the lake and use the water to cook our food.
“Also, members of community, who have farms that are adjacent to the lake, solely relied on water from the lake for their domestic use, prior to its pollution.
“However, after the lake’s pollution, occasioned by an oil spill from Shell’s facility; people can no longer drink water from the lake or fish there.
“There are serious safety concerns about the condition of the water in the lake and the entire environment of the lake itself.
“That is why we want Shell to return to this site to remove the stains from the water of the lake, while treating the soil and the lake to make them free from pollutants that are traceable to crude oil.
“This is necessary to enable us to resume fishing in the lake and eat the fishes without any fear of health implications,” Francis said.
Pastor FearGod Kologa, another resident in the area, said that they learnt that Shell did not carry out proper remediation of the polluted lake due to some seismic activities near the lake late last year.
He said that SPDC officials and officials of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), who visited Oya Lake in March, also confirmed the huge presence of oil slick on its surface.
“They witnessed the situation at the lake but Oya Lake is still seriously polluted; we expect Shell to come and do the proper remediation so that we can go back our lake,’’ Kologa said.
However, Precious Okolobo, the Media Relations Manager of SPDC, said that the oil firm carried out a cleanup of Oya Lake between July and October 2013 when the oil spill occurred.
Okolobo, nonetheless, conceded that the oil firm recently noticed traces of oil in the area.
He said that SPDC and NOSDRA officials had recently inspected the site, while a report on their findings was expected to come out soon.
“A crude oil spill occurred on the 14” Okordia-Rumuekpe trunk line at Ikarama on Dec. 7, 2008, which a joint investigation team, on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16, 2009, attributed to an act of sabotage.
“The spill, which impacted both SPDC Joint Venture’s Right of Way and nearby third-party areas, was cleaned up and certified by regulators on May 31, 2010.
“However, following complaints that the adjacent Oya Lake was also impacted, SPDC conducted another assessment on Feb. 27, 2013, with the participation of members of the host community and representatives of an NGO, Shareholders Alliance for Corporate Accountability (SACA).
“SPDC was not able to trace the source of the latest spill at Oya Lake but commenced a clean-up all the same on July 31, 2013, with the regulators visiting the site for close-out on Oct. 9, 2013.
“Besides, officials of NOSDRA have recently inspected the site and they are expected to come out with a report on their findings anytime soon,” Okolobo said in an e-mail response to NAN inquiry.