The apex socio-cultural group of the Nembe ethnic Nationality, Nembe Se Congress, has protested and demanded that the Federal and Bayelsa State governments should designate the impacted areas in the Santa Barbara Oil Spill as a major disaster zone.
The President of the body, Prof Godwin Egein, who made the call at a briefing in Yenagoa, said the November 1, 2021, spill from the high pressure Aiteo's Oil Mining Lease 21 located in Worikuma-Kiri has continued to spew poisonous substances into the environment over a month after its occurrence.
The group also called on relevant regulatory agencies to compel Aiteo to ensure a stoppage of the spill and a comprehensive cleanup of the affected areas.
The Nembe Se Congress described the spill as one of the biggest disasters in the history of oil and gas exploration and exploitation of the country.
Egein stressed that with dangerous hydrocarbon fluids still gushing out from the well head and destroying the environment in the process, there was a need to declare the area a major disaster zone.
In an eight point demand, Prof Egein also urged for speedy end and remediation of the spill site while advocating the constitution of a joint investigation visit team to ascertain the cause of the incident.
He called for more relief materials and a comprehensive health care arrangement for the people while urging residents in the various fishing and farming settlements along the spill site to relocate to safer locations in view of the health implications.
Earlier, some Nembe Se members comprising elders, youths and women groups had embarked on a protest walk from the Ekeki Park to the NUJ Press Center in Yenagoa to call for urgent attention to the ongoing spill in the Santa Barbara River.
Carrying placards with messages such as “Nembe We Bleed”, “Nembe Oil Spill is a National Disaster”, “We don't have a second home”, “Federal Government take charge” amongst others, they called on Aiteo to ensure transparency in all matters concerning the disaster.