Foropa, a fishing settlement along the Atlantic coastline in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa, Nigeria, has reported a ‘mystery’ oil spill that has left the coastline polluted.
Mystery spills refer to crude oil leaks from unknown sources, particularly in areas with multiple oil firms operating in close proximity.
A notification letter signed by Pastor Olabai Olozulu, the traditional ruler of Foropa, Middleton, indicated that the oil leak at the coastline was observed on Jan. 3.
The letter, addressed to the Head of the Bayelsa Office of the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa, stated that six oil firms operate within the vicinity of Foropa in Southern Ijaw LGA.
These companies include First E & P, Conoil Exploration, NEPL, Shell, and Nigdel United Oil Company.
The community urged the regulatory agency and other government entities to trace the source of the spill and mitigate its impact on the predominantly fishing settlement.
Additionally, the community called upon the oil firms to mobilise relief materials to alleviate the suffering of the affected people.
Mr. Chukwuemeka Iheanacho, Head of NOSDRA in Bayelsa, confirmed the agency’s receipt of the report and stated that a joint visit to the impacted site with all the oil companies operating in the area was being planned.
Iheanachor mentioned that a ‘fingerprinting’ analysis of the crude samples from the site would reveal the operator whose facility discharged the crude into the environment.
“We are planning a joint investigation visit by next Tuesday. I am writing to all the operators within the area to send their representatives because samples will be collected for fingerprinting,” said Iheanacho.
Mr. Darius Sese, Chairman of the Community Development Committee (CDC) in Foropa, mentioned that the incident had significantly impacted fishing in the area. Fishermen were no longer making catches since the spill occurred, as the fish had migrated deeper into the Atlantic waters, away from the coastline.