Residents and fishermen in Koluama ll community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have raised the alarm over alleged use of toxic dispersants to contain an oil leak at Conoil’s field in the area.
The fishing settlement on the Atlantic coastline says the toxic chemicals had wiped out fish species, distorted aquatic life and threatened the occupation.
Dispersants are chemicals applied with regulatory approval and supervision at deep offshore oilfields to dissolve massive oil spills.
Mr Patrick Ileberi, Chairman, Koluama 2, Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman said on Wednesday that the chemical poses hazards to residents.
“Our fishermen cannot go for their daily expeditions: the ongoing mop-up operations using this poisonous chemical have forced us out of fishing and the oil workers deploy gunboats to keep us away.
“It is double trouble because those who wish to enter the deep sea to fish cannot go because the security vessels have cordoned off the area and our fishermen cannot cross,” he said.
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He explained that the dispersant pollutes the air in the neighbourhood and leaves a choking sensation that makes it difficult for people to breathe.
Ileberi said that the community leadership had reported the oil spill to the Yenagoa office of the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).
He explained that oil workers at the facility had shut down the pressure on the production pipelines leading to the disappearance of the gas flare flames at the oil field.
He urged the various tiers of government to come to the aid of the community with relief materials and healthcare missions.
He regretted that officials of the oil firm were negligent of the adverse health impact of the chemicals on the health of residents.
It was learnt that officials of the oil spill agency, NOSDRA visited the spill site on Monday to commence an investigation into the one-week-old incident.
When contacted, Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA disclosed that the agency did not approve the use of dispersants in the area.
Mr Abiodun Azeez, Media Relations Manager of the Oil firm declined to comment on the development.