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HOMEF trains Bayelsa volunteers as communities decry oil spills

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An environmental rights group, the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), has trained no few than 60 residents of oil-bearing communities in Bayelsa State.

Speaking to the volunteers yesterday during the training in Ikarama community, Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state, Executive Director, HOMEF, Dr Nnimmo Bassey, said that a safe environment was fundamental to support lives and livelihoods.

It may be recalled that Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), an oil major, started operations in Ikarama community in 1964.

Bassey said that there was the need for people, who reside near oil and gas fields, to remain vigilant in conserving the environment.

According to him, available data indicate that the area records the most frequent oil spills from the operations of Shell and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).

Before the training session began, HOMEF took volunteers and concerned residents on inspection of oil spill impacted sites.

“The Ministry of the Environment, the NOSDRA and those from Federal Ministry should be involved too. We are having contamination not just in this location here. Therefore, it is very important to test soil across the communities because we are having oil facilities traversing Ikarama community and other Niger Delta communities.”

Also speaking, an environmentalist, Mr Alagoa Morris, said that monitoring the environment demanded factual and evidence-based data collection, recording and reporting.

Morris, who is the Bayelsa State Coordinator of Environmental Right Action and Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN, called on Shell and other oil companies to be proactive when such happens for the safety of the rural dwellers, and the aquatic lives that the people depend on.

On his part, Mr Benjamin Enebiri, the owner of the fish farm where oil was coming from the ground, expressed sadness over the situation, calling on Shell to remediate his land.

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