The Rotary Club of Port-Harcourt, Eco Chapter, has called for remediation of Otuabagi community hosting Oloibiri oilfields in Ogbia, Bayelsa, where oil was first discovered in commercial quantities in 1956.
The club devoted to the environmental conservation and protection as part of its advocacy held engagements with representatives of the community on Saturday to draw attention to the adverse environmental effects after oil production stopped decades ago.
Mr Iniruo Wills, President elect of Port-Harcourt Eco chapter of Rotary said the chapter was formed to focus on the Environment and the Ecosystem.
He said the Eco chapter founded about two years ago is the first in Nigeria and second in Africa with the unique focus on the needs of man and his natural surroundings.
Wills, a former Commissioner for Environment in Bayelsa, said they have come to Otuabagi, where oil exploration which has become the pride of the nation started to take stock of its negative impact and draw attention to it and the need for remediation.
He said oil exploration had stopped over 30 years ago, but residual oil leakages still pollutes the surrounding when it rains and subjects residents to untold hardships as the oil firm abandoned the area with no measures to mitigate leaks from the ‘dry wells’.
He called on the federal government and the oil industry to be responsive to the plight of people in oil bearing communities especially when the oil wells dry up.
Speaking at the event, Dr Bieye Briggs, Public Health Physician, noted that residents complain that although crude oil extraction stopped over 30 years ago, crude is still oozing out from the wellheads intermittently to pollute the environment.
He said the people are in great danger as aquatic lives including fishes and shrimps are being destroyed and even those that survived are very harmful to human health when consumed.
“Those hydrocarbons discharged have been concentrated within the aquatic space and contaminate the fauna and flora and they become poisonous to human lives.
“That is why within a period of 10 to 15 years you begin to see cancers, kidney diseases, liver problems, lungs and respiratory disorders, because of the oil pollution in the environment,” he said
The medical practitioner said the residual oil leakages also affect the underground waters, which the people also depend on for survival as they consumed them.
He said that community people also reported that they often found oily sediments floating on their stream which is their only source for drinking and domestic purposes.
In her remarks, Mrs Emem Okon, a former President of the club, said the people of Otuabagi, have been neglected for years by oil and gas sector.
She said the land and the plants are affected for years and that Shell has sold the place to Aiteo and that the federal government should know that the people are living with oil pollution.
Mr Davies Okarevu, President Port Harcourt plus -Eco Rotary, said rotary called on the people to join the club, to contribute in the humanitarian endeavours for betterment of the society.
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