Some Bayelsa communities that claim to have been affected by the January 2012 rig explosion at Chevron’s oilfields have called on government to compel the oil company to compensate them. Prince George Ibobra, a community leader in Koluama, one of the affected communities, made the call in an interview with journalists in Yonagoa yesterday. Ibobra said that that the explosion, which caused fire that raged for over one month in the area, affected the aquatic lives of the people contrary to Chevron’s position on the matter. He said: “It is a show of the insensitivity by Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) to say that the rig explosion had no adverse effects. “In addition to distorting the ecosystem, our fishing vocation has never been the same since then.
“We no longer catch fish as the fire which lasted over one month wiped them out. The weeds on the ocean floor where the fishes fed and bred were also destroyed. “The sea weeds were contaminated by the hazardous materials used to contain the blow out and our fishermen now catch the weeds instead of fishes.
“We call on government to prevail on Chevron to compensate us so as to maintain the existing peace in the area.’’ Ibobra noted that when the incident occurred, government promised the communities some assistance. He said that the communities were still hopeful that President Goodluck Jonathan would redeem his pledges to them on the issue before he left office. Meanwhile, the company has said that there is no basis for payment of compensation for the January 2012 rig explosion off Bayelsa coastline.
In a statement issued in Yenagoa, Mr. Deji Haastrup, General Manager Policy, Government and Public Affairs, CNL, said the company had no liabilities from the incident. Haastrup said: “The issue of compensation does not arise because the January 2012 rig incident occurred 10 kilometres offshore and did not adversely impact any community. “However, following the incident, the Nigeria Oil Spill Detection and Remediation Agency (NOSDRA) conducted a post-incident environmental assessment.
“NOSDRA reported the findings to the Nigerian House of Representatives Committee on Environment. “That report stated that there was no detectable level of pollutants and water samples tested were within naturally acceptable standards. “Similarly, the result of the independent environmental studies carried out in the coastal communities after the rig incident showed no adverse effects on air or water and the environment. (NAN)