An environmental right group, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), has trained no few than 60 residents of oil bearing communities in Ikarama, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Speaking to the volunteers during training, HOMEF executive director, Dr Nnimmo Bassey, said that a safe environment was fundamental to support lives and livelihoods.
It would be recalled that Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) started operations in Ikarama community in 1964.
Bassey said that there was the need for people, who resided near oil and gas fields to remain vigilant in conserving the environment.
He advised that they should also ensure that the economic interests of investors did not threaten the environment.
The executive director said there was the need to raise volunteers who would defend the ecosystem from degradation and pollution.
He said that Ikarama community is the worst hit and most impacted when it comes to oil spill in the Niger Delta region.
According to him, available data indicate that the area records the most frequent oil spills from the operations of Shell and Agip.
He advised them to develop their skills and capacity to ‘listen to the environment’ as it responded and spoke by responding to human activities that distort the ecosystem.
The session had a site inspection of oil spill impacted site.
The volunteers found out that a youth leader from the community wanted to use his farm for fish farming, discovered that oil was oozing out from the ground.
“A community youth invested resources to excavate his farm for fish farm only to find out that oil was coming out from the ground.
“He did this last year and this year, it is shocking that the exposure of this level of pollution has not driven the polluters to action immediately.
“We heard Shell has come here to take samples, up till now we have not heard that the result has been released. We want to be sure that the result should be released as soon as it is ready.
“The Ministry of Environment, the NOSDRA and those from Federal Ministry should be involved too.
“We are having contamination not just in this location here, it is very important to test soil across the community because we are having oil facilities transversing Ikarama community and other Niger Delta communities,” Bassey said.
He recommended clean up of oil impacted areas as the people have been affected badly in oil spill cases, in the Niger Delta region.
The interactive segment of the training had the volunteers from the community share experiences on the adverse impacts of oil and gas exploration on their environments.
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