URHOBO HISTORICAL SOCIETY


ERA Field Report on
EKAKPAMRE'S
SHELL FIRE DISASTER
September 17-18, 1999


Source:
Subject: Fw: ENGULFED IN SHELL'S FLAMES
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 15:29:30 +0200
From: "Orevaoghene Charles Obaro" <impexma@online.no>
To: <Undisclosed.Recipients@online.no>
Sent courtesy Africaservice.com
-----Original Message-----
From: Environmental Rights Action <eraction@infoweb.abs.net>
To: BASE <base@infoweb.abs.net>
Date: 23. september 1999 15:12
Subject: ENGULFED IN SHELL&rsquo;S FLAMES

ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ACTION (ERA)/ FRIENDS of the EARTH Nigeria
214 Uselu-Lagos Road, P.O. Box 10577, Benin City, Nigeria
tel/fax + 234 52 600 165 e-mail: eraction@infoweb.abs.net


ERA FIELD REPORT #39 :ENGULFED IN SHELL'S FLAMES
FROM: ISRAEL ALOJA

SUBJECT: SHELL'S INHUMANITY TO MANKIND

DESPATCHLINE: EKAKPAMRE COMMUNITY, UGHELLI SOUTH LGA, AREA, DELTA STATE.
DATE: SEPTEMBER 21, 1999


HIGHLIGHTS

* 15 children still missing

* Hunger strike hits Ekakpamre and other communities

* Shock, miscarriage and an imminent epidemic

* Terrestrial and aquatic lives devastated

* River, forest, farms, boats and outboard engines burnt


JOHN WILLY (A Fisherman):

(With tears) "I am terribly sad and confused, my source of livelihood has been destroyed by SHELL"

"We know how to bark and bite. Shell caused this disaster. They should provide an immediate solution or else?


 Mama Shoneka Ikumevwiyan:

"The fire was on for 3 days. Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) is hypocritical.

From the media we've always heard that Shell cares for life, but from this disaster and Shell's absolute negligence, Shell's care and safety ends in their profits from crude oil."


SAMUEL ONORIODE ONOME
YOUTH GENERAL CHAIRMAN

INTRODUCTION

Ekakpamre is an Urhobo community located in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State. It consists of five (5) clans:  Ekrusierho, Ekenewharem, Ekroghen, Ekrezeghe and Ekrata. There are 12 oil wells located in the community. SHELL has been operating in these communities since 1960.

On the 18 September 23, 1999 there was a fire outbreak which affected several communities in Ughelli by burning their forests, boats, nets and even the river which has a thick layer of still spreading crude. At the time of this report about 15 children were still reported missing.

Investigations carried out revealed that the fire emanated from a ruptured ancient pipeline belonging to Shell which spewed oil into the communities. This is no case of sabotage.


SPDC TOYS WITH HUMAN LIVES

Friday 17th September, 1999

According the Vice President of the community Mr. Robert Ojo, when they were notified about the oil spill from the ruptured pipeline, Shell personnels Mr Osas and Odia and the supervisor on duty in the Ughelli West flow station were also notified. They all visited the scene and identified the actual point of leakage. Shell then promised to come back at about 4.00pm that day but they never came back.

That night the entire atmosphere was charged with fumes of crude oil. There was a strong smell of crude all over the community. -- Town Criers (announcers) were engaged to alert the entire community of an imminent disaster.


ENGULFED IN FLAMES

Saturday 18 September 1999

The following day, at about 4am, there was a loud noise. People ran out of their houses screaming and crying. There was fire everywhere!

At 11.30am two helicopters belonging to SPDC hovered above the affected areas while it was still in flames. Shell could not do anything to quench the fire.

A team of Shell personnels led by Shell Community Liaison Officer (CLO), Mrs. Grace Akpan eventually arrived the community at about 2:30 p.m. Their mission was not to calm the situation or to sympathise with the community but to request that a Joint Investigation Visit (J.I.V) be conducted.


EFFECTS OF THE INFERNO

19th September, 1999

The six affected communities - Ekakpamre, Ekerejegbe, Iwhrekreka, Ugehevwughe, a Otor-Edo, and Edjophe have been thrown into hardship as their only source of water, livelihood and survival has been burnt, polluted and destroyed. They are predominantly fishermen. The fire destroyed their canoes, outboard engines, boats and fishing nets.


HEALTH RISKS

So many people are still suffering from shock.

One Mr. Patrick Ekhojoda said his wife had a miscarriage due to shock. The release of excessive hydrocarbons into the atmosphere is sure to cause respiratory track infection. The people&rsquo;s source of potable water is effectively destroyed and would take years to be restored to a usable state. An epidemic is eminent.


ERA CALLS FOR:

* Immediate clean up of the environment by Shell.

* Provision of relief materials and potable water to the affected communities by both Shell and the government.

* The government and Shell should assess the extent of damage done and compensate the affected communities adequately and urgently.

* Proper medical care for members of the communities to avert out-break of an epidemic.

* Intensification of efforts to locate and rescue the missing children.



For more information contact our offices or
E-mail us at any of these addresses
eraction@infoweb.abs.net
oilwatch@infoweb.abs.net
disera@infoweb.abs.net
obinze@aol.com
njaja@compuserve.com

ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ACTION (ERA)/FRIENDS OF THE EARTH NIGERIA
#214 USELU-LAGOS ROAD, P. O. BOX 10577, UGBOWO, BENIN CITY, NIGERIA
TEL/FAX: +234 52 600 165
EMAIL: eraction@infoweb.abs.net
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ERA...
FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT...
FOR THE DEMOCRATISATION OF DEVELOPMENT


Return to Contents Page | END OF DOCUMENT | Return to Ekakpamre Fire