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Field Report #166 - Agip Spills at Apoi
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
HIGHLIGHTS
•    Ruptured oil pipeline destroys farmlands and pollutes surrounding creeks.
•    Agip refuses to clean up spill.
•    Pipeline had ruptured at the same point several times before.


INTRODUCTION
Apoi Community is a peaceful Ijaw town situated in Apoi Clan of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. It plays host to Agip’s Ogboinbiri Flow Station. The inhabitants are predominantly fishermen and subsistence farmers.
The 10th Tededaba Clough Creek pipeline, which is one of the pipelines feeding the Ogoinbiri flow station, runs across their land. The pipeline was laid in 1980.
Recurring Spills
On the 20th of October 2007, the community dwellers were alerted to the rupture of the Clough Creek pipeline as a result of a fire, which was caused by the freely flowing crude oil. However, this was not news to them. From what ERA monitors gathered, there have been five major spills arising from this pipeline, three of which have occurred on the same spot. These three specific incidents have been accompanied by fire. The first one occurred in 1999, followed by another incident in 2005, and then 2007. All of these spills have occurred at the same spot.


Agip foot drags
According to Mr. Blessing Doiye, the Community Development Committee Chairman, as soon as the spill was discovered and the resultant fire put out, formal complaints were lodged at the office of the Swamp Area Manager, Agip at Brass and Port Harcourt, notifying them of the rupture of the pipeline.
Speaking further, the CDC Chairman said that since Agip was alerted, there has not been any visit from Agip in relation to the spill. He further said that even when the issue was taken up with the Ministry of Environment, the community was told that they (the Ministry) could not do anything since Agip has not shown any interest in the matter.
A youth leader in the community, Mr. Kurobo Ayibatari, further explained “when we took our complaint to Agip at Brass, Agip’s Senior Public Relation Officer, Mr. O. Preye said, “I will not send my people to go and die. Let the fire and spill remain until we are ready for such a visit. There is nothing we can do now”.

When ERA monitors visited the spill site, they observed that the pipe was still spewing crude, three weeks after it was first reported. A reasonably large expanse of land had been affected already. It was also noticed that much of the vegetation around the spill site had been destroyed as a result of the fire. Several fishponds visibly affected by the spill were also seen in the vicinity of the spill site.

Furthermore, it was gathered that till date, no effort has been made on the part of Agip to effect repairs on the ruptured pipeline or to clean the resultant spill.
   
ERA demands
1.    Agip Nigeria should put an immediate stop to the spill at Apoi community. The pipeline in question should be replaced immediately.
2.    The affected areas should be cleaned and the land and environment promptly remediated.
3.    Adequate compensation should be made for the loss of lands and livelihoods to the people of Apoi community.
4.    Ageing oil pipelines scattered throughout the Niger Delta should be replaced to minimize the seemingly incessant incidences of ruptures.


 
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