The Bayelsa State Government has expressed worry over Aiteo Production Company’s failure to plug the leaks at its oil field in Nembe, two weeks after the incident was reported.
The government’s reaction is contained in a statement issued on Friday by the Commissioner for Information in the state, Ayibaina Duba.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the incident occurred on November 5 at Santa Barbra Well 1 Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29.
Mr Duba said Governor Douye Diri was disappointed that the company “had not taken any concrete steps” to rectify the problem since the equipment failure was reported.
He stated that Mr Diri “wondered why the massive spill has continued unabated, leading to extensive pollution of the rivers, waterways and farmlands in Nembe Local Government Area, even when the company’s management is aware of the situation”.
He said, “The governor is gravely concerned that if the high volume of crude being spilled continuously is not stopped immediately, it will spread to many more communities.
“This will undermine the economic life of residents, who are predominantly farmers and fishermen.
“Diri warned Aiteo not to assume that this criminal neglect of its facilities and disregard for human life and the environment, as demonstrated by its conduct will not be accounted for.”
The state government said it would not stand by and watch the oil firm put human and aquatic lives and the environment in jeopardy.
It urged the residents of Nembe to be law-abiding and remain peaceful, assuring them of the government’s commitment to their wellbeing.
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The officials of National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) deployed to ascertain the cause of the leak had reported that the magnitude of the leak was hampering investigations.
The Director-General of NOSDRA, Idris Musa, told NAN that the agency had directed the operators of the facility to plug the leak for investigations to begin.
Mr Musa said other oil firms in the country, under the auspices of Clean Nigeria Associates, had been drafted to join Aiteo in the recovery of spilled crude.
Meanwhile, residents of the area have expressed worry over their health as the gaseous discharge had gone unabated for 14 days.