Fresh facts on Tuesday emerged on how indigenes of the Sangana community in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa state intervened and averted a major fire disaster on Conoil offshore platform code named Aunty Julie.
The fire incident, which occured on the major oil Platform owned by ConOil and located offshore of deep sea of Sangana, lasted for over seven hours on Friday before it was brought under control and put off by some bold indigenes.
Emeraldng.com gathered that instead of the Chevron Fire Service alerted after the fire outbreak to arrive at t scene, indigenes of the community led by a known fire fighter, Ene Owei, intervened and averted a major fire disaster.
A safe environment advocacy group known as Environmental Right Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), in a summary on the fire disaster, confirmed that while help was being awaited from Chevron fire fighters and equipment; it turned out to be that it was community folks who put out the fire at last.
Also speaking on the development, the chairman of the community development committee (CDC), Benjamin Ayibatonye, confirmed that ‘’actually, at the end of the day, it was not the Chevron people who came and put off the fire.
One Ene Owei, a fire fighter from Sangana community at about 9:00am on Friday, went to Aunty Julie, Conoil platform with a team of boys from the community to fight the fire and did so for about two hours and was able to put the fire off at about 11:00am on the platform and, in the presence of Engineer Oma, the Operational Manager of Conoil and one Mr. Bello Bina, who flew with helicopter to the platform.
”And thereafter, the team of boys was appreciated with a token of N1.5million as a way of saying well done by Engineer Oma.’’
The Bayelsa state coordinator of ERA/FoEN, Comrade Morris Alagoa, described the role played by indigenes of the state as commendable, saying: “Not only for their bravery but considering the negative image oil companies also associated with youths in their areas of operation. This is a positive example of community assistance to oil operations. This is quite exemplary and worthy of commendation.”
“So far, no mention has been made of seeing regulators visiting the environment of incident and, like the KS Endeavor incident of 16th January, 2012 no prompt action has been heard from the side of any of the regulatory agencies. Sadly, up till date; there is no mention of anything like JIV in connection with Chevron’s North Apoi facility incident; an indictment on the regulators.”
” All such incidents in the oil industry ought to attract JIV so as to officially document the cause and indicate all other related matters and, whether the environment was impacted in any way or not. As at the time of writing this report, efforts to reach the Head of NOSDRA, Bayelsa State and Head of Oil industry related Pollution, Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment were not successful.”
According to Comrade Alagoa, “In view of the sensitive nature of the oil industry in terms of related pollution and conflicts; there is need to adhere to regulations and hence, Joint Investigation Team [JIT] should be constituted immediately to conduct a Joint Investigation Visit [JIV] with a view to officially document and report the incident. It cannot be swept under the carpet.”
“The regulators should ensure that gaps are bridged on issues relating to the oil industry operations. An informer which lasted for seven hours and all workers on board platform evacuated cannot be said to be a minor incident. This incident should be investigated jointly as industrial policy demands.”
“Sangana community folks should remain vigilant and report any strange environment phenomenon within this period to the authorities, especially NODRA and Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment; including Environmental groups like ERA/FoEN.”