Reports of further spread of the slick from Shell’s Bonga facility to more communities necessitated a visit by ERA/FoEN field monitors to two of the affected communities in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, along the Dodo River. The communities are Bilabiri and Amatu. The Dodo River empties into the Atlantic Ocean and the main occupation of the people there is fishing. ERA/FoEN’s visit was in response to information that the Bonga spill has reached the two communities; to see things first hand.
The field monitors were accompanied by the national spokesman of the Ijaw Youth Council [IYC], Jeremiah Perekeme Oweipele, as well as Tobovieyi Kenigbolo and Eneme Akali [members of the IYC]. The team visited two communities where Dodo River empties into the Atlantic Ocean. A community folk from Amatu community also made his observance known, especially on the sudden emergence of Shell’s boom in their waters. Their testimonies and observations follow:
TESTIMONIES FROM COMMUNITY FOLKS
City Saka, former Chairman of the Community Development Committee [CDC] of Bilabiri
It is true that the Bonga spill spread to our community, Bilabiri. That was one of the subjects of discussion between Shell and the thirteen communities in the area on 29th December 2011 at Wellington Hotel, Warri. Shell actually admitted that we were impacted by the spill from Bonga. That is the much I can say for now. But you are free to hear from other community folks too.
Jeremiah Charles from Amatu Community
As you can see we are just coming from one of our usual fishing expeditions to the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, we experienced the spill here about a week ago. The slick is being carried in different directions. If you were here last week you would have noticed it here. These Shell booms you see on both sides of the Dodo River were not here before. And, I think this can tell you that something of that nature happened here. Although I didn’t see when those booms were brought and positioned there, it is very recent, within the period of the Bonga spill.
From where Dodo River empties into the Atlantic Ocean, ERA/FoEN monitors observed a gas flare far away. When ERA asked if the flare was from the Bonga, Jeremiah Charles responded thus:
No, that flare is from Middleton operated by Chevron/ Texaco in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area. The spill I was talking about is from Shell’s Bonga field. We still spot slicks in the ocean as we go about our fishing activities; even though the ocean current seems to have taken it to other places. As for the impacts on our fishing, looking at what we are returning home with can tell you something. We are not catching fish as before any more….
One of the main observations of ERA’s field monitors was the very long Shell oil booms found in the environment, positioned almost opposite each other on both sides of the Dodo River and close to the junction of Dodo River and the Atlantic Ocean. Boldly written on the boom were the words: Fose Boom, Shell P.D.C Nigeria. The G.P.S coordinates where the booms were seen include: Elev:9m, N 04°55.249’ , E005°27.185’ and Elev:12m, N 04°55.172’, E005°27.544’. From the length of the booms [about four of them], they might cross the width of Dodo River from left to right. Since booms are mostly used to contain the spread of oil slick, ERA monitors were convinced that the booms were brought by Shell there because of the spread of the Bonga spill.
- Shell stop denying responsibility for the spreading slick in Ekeremor and other Niger Delta communities
- Community folks note and record all observations in their environment and notify NOSDRA and other relevant government agencies and environmental/human rights groups
- The Federal Government set up a critical stakeholders’ team of experts to investigate the spill and related reports
Shell pay adequate compensation for specific and general damage to victims of the Bonga spill.