TheOdimodi community in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State has raised the alarm over toxic spills from Shell’s facilities that they alleged has led to the death of hundreds of fish along the creek of the Odimodi. According to the community, the spill came from Shell’s waste disposal pipeline that carries products from the company’s Focardos terminal down to the high sea. This pipeline has been in the community for more than five decades and consistently leaks waste petroleum products from the valves of the pipeline.
Field officers of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) who visited the scene, said that the activities of Shell and other oil corporations operating in Odimodi have constantly resulted in oil spills that cause environmental pollution on land and water bodies as well as their waste disposal lines pouring sludge in the water bodies.
Ambassador Dere Podoki, Community Public relations officer said the current spill which occurred on August 19, 20222 was noticed by motorcyclists in the community who were plying their trade and stumbled on a leaking valve on the Shell’s wastewater disposal pipeline spilling toxic chemicals into the creek of Odimodi community with dead fishes visibly seen floating everywhere.
He said the community confirmed the information to be correct when they rushed to the site and reported to Shell (owners of the facility) and NOSDRA (the regulator).
But according to him, both bodies are yet to respond to the letters from the community.
“Apart from dead fishes seen floating, oil sheen was also seen visibly floating on the surface of the water. The affected areas are producing offensive odour which is one of the reasons why the fishes in the creek are dying”
Echoing the same position, Brakemi Endoro:- 42 year old Camp owner at Odimodi Burrow Pit Creek, revealed that the sludge and waste water continues to kill fishes and that at the moment the locals were frustrated as their quest to get justice is not yielding fruit.
Comrade Tarede Ebiarede – Youth President of Odimodi said that Shell staff that came on inspection confirmed that it was an equipment failure but failed to do anything. Ebiarede said that the biggest worry of the locals is the likelihood of a pandemic because of huge number of dead fishes floating on the creek.
“We have received reports from some of our community folks that consumed the fishes that the fish have bitter taste. Since SPDC started operation in our environment, our community that had lived in harmony with nature and everyone became a disaster and almost like war zone”.
Michael Silver a woman leader in the community corroborated Ebiarede position, even as she alerted that fishing which was the major trade of the has become difficult.
“Our new nets easily get destroyed due to the crude oil found in our water bodies. Because of the decline in our fishing activities, we often turn to the picking of water snails (periwinkle) along the Bank of the river. This too has been rendered unproductive. Our women must travel to distant places before they can manage to have some catch”
Some of the recommendations from the community are that Shell must as a matter of urgency return to the community to conduct post impact assessment and clean up all affected areas in the community affected by spills since 2018. They want all ongoing oil-induced inter and intra community conflicts resolved and the affected community people compensated for the economic hardship meted at them by the oil companies.