Residents and fishermen in Koluama 2 community in Bayelsa State have bemoaned the use of toxic dispersants to contain an ongoing oil leak at Conoil’s field.

The fishing settlement on the Atlantic coastline says the toxic chemicals have wiped out fish species and distorted aquatic life, and threatened the main occupation of the people of the area.

DAILY POST gathered that the dispersants are chemicals applied with regulatory approval and supervision at deep offshore oilfields to dissolve massive oil spills.

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Chairman, Koluama 2, Community Development Committee, CDC, Mr. Patrick Ileberi, said that the chemical posed hazards to residents and the aquatic life of the people.

He added, “Our fishermen cannot go for their daily expeditions, the ongoing mop-up operations using this poisonous chemical has forced us out of fishing, and the oil workers deploy gunboats to keep us away.

“It is double trouble because those who wish to enter deep sea fishing cannot go because the security vessels have cordoned off the area and our fishermen cannot cross,” he said.

He explained that the dispersant pollutes the air in the neighbourhood and leaves a choking sensation and respiratory difficulties.

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Ileberi, while explaining further, said that the community leadership had reported the oil spill to the Yenagoa office of the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).

He said that oil workers at the facility had shut down the pressure on the production pipelines leading to the disappearance of the gas flare flames at the oil field.

He urged the various tiers of government to come to the aid of the community with relief materials and healthcare missions to Koluama 2.

He regretted that officials of the oil firm were negligent of the adverse health impact of the chemicals on the health of residents.

It was also learnt that officials of NOSDRA visited the spill site on Monday to commence an investigation into the one-week-old incident.

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When contacted, Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA, disclosed that the agency did not approve dispersants in the area.

Mr Abiodun Azeez, Media Relations Manager of the oil firm, declined to comment on the development.