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Field Report #164: Chevron's Persistent Pollution of Ilaje
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
Location:     Ilaje Local Government, Ondo State

•    Chevron spill wreaks havoc along Ondo coastline
•    Communities remain polluted two months after
•    Chevron schemes to evade liability
•    Plans secret mop up

ERA monitors visited five Ilaje communities along the coastline of Ondo State recently and reported that a spill from facilities operated offshore by Chevron has polluted   the entire coastline of the state.

The communities visited include Aiyetoro, Abereko, Oriokeiwamimo, Okunetikan and Okunpepe . They are among over 200 Ilaje communities scattered along the Atlantic shoreline where the vegetation, like other parts of the Niger Delta, is mostly mangrove and characteristically fragile. The communities comprise mainly fishermen and animal farmers who depend largely on the waters for their livelihood as well as for consumption.

ERA monitors learnt that the spill occurred on June 24, 2007 at a Chevron facility offshore of the Ilaje coastline from where it spread to other communities along the coastline. In the communities, the ERA team saw streets laced with large quantities of  crude, damaged fishing nets and canoes. The residents also complained that the  handful of fishes they had  managed to catch since the spill were not edible because they had turned  blackish and  smelt of  crude.

The first oil spill in the Ilaje waters allegedly from Chevron facilities occurred in Ewan Field on May 13, 2000. Another occurred on June 24, same year, followed by three others in 2004. They occurred on July 31, September 30, and December 7 of that year.

The polluted communities are populated by mostly fishermen and farmers. The residents’ sources of livelihood have suffered since the spill. Apart from damaged fishing tools, fishermen in the communities complained that that their catches have dwindled considerably in the last four months as most of the known species have migrated to safer waters. Besides, the pollution of the farmlands has caused crop loss and resulted in the sudden death of goats, chicken and cows.

Pollution of the only source of drinking water for the people has impacted gravely on the health of residents, as many have come down with rashes and blisters.
Vomiting among children is also a constant occurrence since many of them, assuming that the waters are safe, still drink and bath in it.

Chevron has continually refused to take responsibility for this very injurious spill. Curiously it has also rejected the recommendations of the Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) to the spill area. However, in a dramatic twist to the spill drama, the multinational has offered to clean up the mess.

 “Chevron lied that the waves of the sea did not bring the spill to our shores. But we noticed after a recent four-day rain which flooded the entire town and receded a week after, that the only road that cuts through the town became unusually slippery. We later confirmed the slippery substance to be crude oil. To worsen matters, our fishermen now complain that all the fish that were formerly in our waters have moved to cleaner waters. The prawns they used to catch have become endangered also because their colour became brown rather than the whitish color that they are known to be.
Tell me, who will buy brown-colored prawns?”
- Paramount ruler of Aiyetoro Community, Oba Olokun Ashogbon

 “The crude oil spill on Aiyetoro which is made up of six communities has impacted badly on fishing which is our major profession. Worse is the fact that we no longer breathe fresh air in the area because of the pollution. Instead, we inhale the poison that the crude spill emits.
The river was the only source of water for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing until the spill took place but that is no longer possible because those who drank the water started vomiting and coming down with various internal and external diseases. Our children suffer more because some of them still drink the water in ignorance.”
- Mr. Aiyedatiwa Taiwo from Abreke Community

“I have been away from the waters for four months now because there is nothing to catch. Our nets have also become bad because the spill weakens them and makes them break when we make any catch. We have tried all peaceful approaches to get Chevron and the oil companies operating on Ilajeland to clean the pollution but they have failed to listen and now our livelihoods have been destroyed”.
- Mr. Lawson Obakpolor, a 58 year-old fisherman in Aiyetoro

 “For sometime now we have been unable to catch fish because of the spill which Chevron has continued to deny being responsible for. Maybe they are doing this because we do not have the financial capacity to tackle them in court.
But we want the world to know that the activities of multinational oil companies have become a threat to our lives and livelihood because both sides depend on the sea.
The spill continues to damage our engines which cost an average of N700,000. Till date, about 100 fish farmers have complained of damage to their engines. So, how will they survive and feed their families? Government should come to our rescue.”
- Timiolapo Segun, Public Relations Officer of Ilaje Farmers Association

 “The impact of the spill has been very devastating because the occupation of both men and women in the community is fishing and animal rearing. For the over 10,000 people that make up the community, apart from fishing, we have cows, pigs, goats and fowls that are reared domestically along the riverine area but when the spill occurred, fish in our ponds died, animals that drank the waters also started dying. People who drank the polluted water came down with diarrhea.”
-Hon. Omomuwa Marshal, a fisherman from Oriokeiwamimo community

•    Chevron should be compelled to take immediate steps to clean up the spill in all the affected communities along the Ilaje Shoreline.
•    Compensation should be paid to the fishermen and all members of the communities who depend on the waters along the Ilaje shoreline for livelihood.
•    The Government should take steps to ensure that Chevron acts responsibly and adheres strictly to internationally best practices in the oil and gas industry.

•    Send a letter to your legislator (Local Government, State and Federal) to call Chevron to order.
•    Demand a clean up of the polluted Ilaje waters.
•    Write to Chevron and demand that it should immediately halt the spread of the spill, repair its faulty equipment and compensate the community and the people for the pollution of their environment and abrupt termination of their only means of livelihood.
Address:    Chevron Nigeria Limited
2 Chevron Drive
Off Lekki - Epe Expressway
Lekki Peninsula
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