More than 20 days after an oil spill which resulted in inferno broke out in Opu Nembe Community at the Southern field of Sant Barbara in Nembe council area of Bayelsa State, the fire has yet to be curtailed.
According to Spaces for Change, the fire is still ravaging the community.
It was allegedly caused by oil leakages from crude pipelines owned by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited (AITEO).
The inferno which started on November 5, 2021, has destroyed traditional livelihoods, crops and economic trees, contaminating water and food sources and killing all sorts of aquatic creatures.
Beyond the massive economic losses, the people of Opu Nembe community have suffered incalculable damage to their physical, social and cultural environments, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, Executive Director of Spaces for Change, said in a statement given to Persecondnews.com on Friday.
She stated:”SPACES FOR CHANGE strongly condemns this resurgence of environmental irresponsibility by oil corporations operating in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria.
“Whatever steps, if any, taken remain ineffective as the inferno and the massive oil spill gushing out of AITEO’s facilities remain unrestrained till date.”
Investigations showed that residents have lamented shortage of drinking water as water from the local streams now heavily coated with crude oil are neither usable nor drinkable.
Fishing nets, boats and other hunting wares worth several millions of Naira have been damaged beyond repair.
“The incident is an unfortunate replay of the laisser-faire attitude of oil corporations where petro-powered profits come first before the life and wellbeing of local communities.
“Oil corporations like AITEO can brazenly leave oil spills and the accompanying inferno uncontrolled for several days because of the weak and extremely lax regulatory environment in the country where accountability for environmental injustices lag behind.
“AITEO’s handling of the oil spill in Opu Nembe community not only constitutes a dereliction of corporate responsibility but also violates the Opu Nembe’s peoples’ right to development, dignity and clean environment as guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and a host of international human rights instruments which Nigeria has ratified.
“SPACES FOR CHANGE|S4C demands that AITEO immediately begins the process of remediation of the environment in Opu Nembe community.
“Regulatory agencies should ensure that AITEO applies international best practice in the land remediation exercises. In addition to a swift clean-up, AITEO should take immediate steps to compensate people whose properties and livelihoods have been gravely affected by the inferno,” Ibezim-Ohaeri said.
She, however, demanded that Investigations into the incident should be made public devoid of any attempt for a cover up.