Aiteo Spill: Unattended Crude Sludge Spilling Into Atlantic Ocean – Environmentalist

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By Kenechukwu Obiajuru, Yenagoa

A new flank has opened in the November 5 oil spill in Santa Barbra wells, Nembe in Nigeria’s
Niger Delta, with residents in the neighboring Brass local government area alleging that crude oil from the spill is responsible for equally unattended sludge emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.   

Confirming the sludge, an environmentalist, Mr. Iniruo Wills, urged the government of Bayelsa to rise to the occasion and assist the impacted victims. Wills, a former commissioner of environment in the state, said the spilled crude has spread from the Santa Barbra River, Nembe creeks into the Atlantic Ocean forming sludge at the coastline.

According to him, the Oil and Environment Commission, led by Archbishop John Sentamu has a moral and public obligation to the people of Bayelsa state to deal with the sludge.

“It is not a choice anymore, not only speak up but to act now on this totally avoidable catastrophe and the present status of the assignment it started in earnest almost three years ago,” Wills said.

But the Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company has denied that the Santa Barbra oil spill is solely responsible for the sludge in the Atlantic Ocean coast line. In a statement issued last Friday, the company said the claimed sludge was not from its operations.

According to the statement signed by spokesman Mr. Mathew Ndianabasi, the Santa Barbra well site location makes the allegation difficult to believe. “The Santa Barbra field is not in the Atlantic ocean, the location is onshore and there have been so many from other sources. Those heaps of sludge have been there before the incident we have,” Ndianabasi said.

Meanwhile, the company has said that it is taking additional steps to appease the locals affected in the November 5, oil spill in Santa Barbra, Nembe in the Nigeria’s Niger Delta.

According to the company, in addition to more palliatives, Aiteo is distributing relief materials including mosquito nets, hygiene and sanitary kits, disinfectants, food materials, to the immediate communities impacted by the spill.

Ndianabasi said the company is closely monitoring all activities related to the affected communities, including feeding, lighting, hygiene, drinking water and medical requirements with the help of local associations.

He assured that Aiteo health and environment teams are monitoring the quality of the air every 6 hours to ascertain the livability of the areas adjoining the incident site.

According to him concerted efforts are being to stop the ongoing oil leak. Ndianabasi stated that the visit by the Minister of for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva to the incident site was to convey the concerns of the federal government on the pollution.

The spokesman said that foreign technical well control experts were already on the incident site while specialized equipment to plug the leaking well were arriving the spill site within Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29.

“All relevant personnel and experts, local and international, are now on location. The marine spread carrying the pumps, chemicals, cranes, and firefighting equipment are 100% mobilized and have set sail to location.

“Two units of 1000 Metric Tones capacity  Ramp barge (vessel) containing simulation equipment for the well kill also sailed today.  Simultaneously, concurrent activities including spotting and hook up of hoses are ongoing on the barges to minimize clean up downtime.

“Loading of additional equipment being mobilised from Snake Island underway and is expected to arrive staging area in Santa Barbra by 12:00hrs on 26 November 2021,” Aiteo stated.

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