Urhobo Historical Society

GANA, AN URHOBO COMMUNITY, IMPACTED BY SHELL'S OIL SPILL


ERA FIELD REPORT

ERA FIELD REPORT #53
Subject: Shell's Leaking Pipes
From: Patrick Naagbanton
Dispatchline: Gana, Ughelli-North L.G.A., Delta State
Date: January 12, 2000

HIGHLIGHTS
Gas fire outbreak in sight
Death toll rises, Children and women victims

When I die, know that Shell killed me....
Master Jerome Atariku, 7 years

I find it difficult to move and to breathe. Others have relocated leaving only me. I have no place to go. Tell them [shell] to come and stop this gas so that the cough and itching will stop..
Mrs. Omodovwe Adjohowo, 97 years.

Anytime I come to this spot [leaking pipeline] I have problems with my respiratory system and this is the only route to my work place.
Mr. Osikekpe Samson, 36 years

We have heard and read that shell.s staff are being held hostage by our people because of this explosion. You [ERA Monitor] have spent sometime here in our community and you have seen things for yourself. I appeal that you go to the world and say the truth, if you do that God will be with you. But .[striking his chest and weeping uncontrollably], Shell has sinned against God and our people, they have told lies against us. Are we violent as they say?

Gospel Emueheri, 30 years

BACKGROUND
Gana is an old rural settlement of Urhobo ethnic nationality in Ughelli-North Local Government Area of Delta State. The people are predominantly farmers because of the available fertile land in the area. The population of Gana is about 4,982 persons. Shell.s famous Eriemu oil field, 20 oil wells, network of facilities/ installations criss-cross the entire Gana community. Shell started operation in the place since 1958.

Gana community hosts the Gas project belonging to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). All the above facilities are located inside the community.

GANA COMMUNITY, POLLUTED AND UNSAFE
On May 26, 1999, a major blowout occurred at Shell.s 16 inches truck line at Ikavwe bush and large quantity of crude oil spewed out. The affected area has vulnerable receptors like canals, swamps and open water bodies which aid the degrading effects of the spill. The following communities were heavily impacted.

1. Opherin community - Ughelli North LGA (Delta State) 2. Owevwe community . Ughelli North LGA (Delta State) 3. Onah community . Ughelli North LGA (Delta State) 4. Iyede community . Isoko North LGA (Delta State) 5. Emevor community . Isoko North LGA (Delta State)
The spill was not cleaned nor were compensation paid. Till the time of this report, the impact is still greatly felt in the affected areas.

On September 11, 1999, another major spill occurred at the Eriemu manifold situated in the community. The spill forced its way through a fragile valve (technical failure of Shell's equipment). The spill was not attributed to sabotage but the spill was abandoned.

DEATH TOLL RISES, GAS FIRE OUTBREAK IMMINENT
Mr. Shedrach Oniyere, a 40 years old father of six children and Chairman of Gana community lamented to ERA that on May 13, 1999, a rupture occurred at the well 17 pipeline and spewed crude oil into the adjacent environment. The community said Shell only visited the community and did minor repairs on their aged pipeline leaving the environment devastated without any attention.

Consequently, another leakage occurred recently and spewed poisonous gas at the same well 17 pipeline that runs through Mrs. Omodovwe Adjohwo.s compound. ERA finding revealed that the leakage was caused by corrosion on the product pipeline.

The air in the community is charged with offensive odour and dangerous emissions from the affected site. This adverse atmospheric condition in the area has given rise to fears of impending epidemic in the area.

Unfortunately, the area has no health care facilities. The sanitary condition is very poor because of the polluted environment. The people are impoverished and suffer from poor nutrition. These factor are all conducive to disease vectors like cholera, dysentery, diarrhea and measles which has led to a high mortality rate in the community.

Late Mr. Joseph Evwietoma (a 48 years old man with two wives and 11 children) who was an asthmatic patient and the spokesman of the community slumped and died while inspecting the spill site with some government officials and some community members.

Medical sources who pleaded anonymity disclosed to ERA monitor at the Shell cottage hospital at Ireke in Ethiope East LGA, of Delta State, that the man died as a result of inhaling an excess of poisonous fumes. Another victim Master Godstime Obior, a 6 years old boy who was also asthmatic died in his residence close to the site of the explosion for the same reason. The corpses of the two deceased persons are still in the mortuary.

The following Gana community members are in critical conditions from the same problem situation. They are in Ughelli and Agbara main town:

1. Master Odiri Shedrach - 1 year and 6 months
2. Miss Anthonia Etaka - 5 years old
3. Miss Gift Power - 1 year
4. Miss Vwareua - 8 years
5. Master Freeborn Oteri - 8 years
6. Master Matthew Mukoro - 6 years
7. Mr. Paul Etarhienyo - 27 years old
APPEAL FOR RELOCATION
Gana community hosts SPDC and NNPC facilities. There are good access roads to the manifold, oil field, flare points, plants etc but Gana lacks all these amenities. There is constant electricity supply at Eriemu oil field, but Gana community remains in darkness. As many of the community people desert the affected area, a grave refugee problem is in sight.

There is also the fear of a possible gas explosion. Community people in an interview with ERA indicated their interest to resettle elsewhere if government provides an alternative place.

ERA RECOMMENDATIONS

WHAT YOU CAN DO
Send letters to Shell reminding them of what corporate citizenship means

Alert the Federal Environmental Ministry, Local and International media and groups on the plight of the Gana people

Demand that they either make the environment safe or relocate the people

Write to your legislators and lawmakers on the obligation of their people

Write to your legislators and lawmakers (Nigerians) requesting them to raise issues of environmental concern as a part of their mission, mandate and obligation to the people


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