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Highlight: Spill has spread to impact Keme-Ebiama and other communities downstream.
Location: From Ogboinbiri axis, Southern Ijaw local Government Area, Bayelsa State.
Occupation: Fishing and farming are the means of livelihood of the people.
When information reached ERA/FoEN that the people of Keme-Ebiama were experiencing a major oil spill and the whole river had been covered by heavy volume of crude oil, it became urgent to visit the community and environs; more so as the current of the river there flows in just one direction.
Before setting sail, ERA/FoEN also received information that the source of the spill was Shell’s Seibou Deep facility and that several downstream communities had been impacted following the water current-aided spread. Communities mentioned include: Keme-Ebiama, Apoi, Kokologbene, Gbaruan, Ukubie, Lobia, among others. For the records, Shell has three wellheads at the end of a Canal it constructed some years ago. The canal is just by Ogboinbiri community but goes relatively far into the interior and, where the three wellheads are located is said to be jointly claimed/owned by Ogboinbiri, Gbaruan and Azagbene communities. The oil spill was said to have happened over a month ago but Shell used booms to contain it within the canal; preventing it from spreading into the Ogboinbiri River which is fast flowing and in one direction only. The cause of spill was not immediately ascertained.
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has raised the alarm following reports that Shell may be attempting to thwart the recommended cleanup of Ogoniland through a deal with a local company called Belema Oil. Shell is said to have sold its oil blocks in Ogoniland to Belema oil, and drilling is set to commence as the company has reached agreement with some community chiefs who are being used to collate signatures endorsing the sale of the oil in Ogoniland.
Some top Shell officials are believed to have strong links with the company. Community sources also revealed that that some Ogoni community leaders were recently flown to Lagos to hold secret meetings on the oil block sale and may have been compromised after which they received documents with which to collect signatures from the Ogoni people as consent to the sale of Ogoni Oil.
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The theme of the World Environment Day 2013 is “Think. Eat. Save”. Each word is loaded and stands alone, separated by unambiguous periods. That should get us thinking indeed. Many people in the world do not really think before eating. They are more preoccupied by the nagging question of where the next meal would come from. There are also a number of persons whose questions pertain to what to eat out of the myriad of choices on their sumptuous dining tables. And, of course, there are people to whom saving food is not a problem while to yet others there is simply no choice in doing that. There are others who wish to save but cannot do so either due to a lack of means to do so, or for the reason of current insufficiencies.
There is a lot of food for thought in just considering the theme.