Even as ExxonMobil officials were perfecting their cover-up strategies for an oil spill that occurred 10 days ago, one more spillage has been reported in its area of operation.
Fishermen and residents of coastal communities in Ibeno, Esit Eket local councils in Akwa Ibom who noticed crude deposits on the shoreline reported the development to the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), which today confirmed the report.
“As soon as we got the report we immediately deployed personnel to the site, even though we are still investigating the earlier incident of August 13,” an official said, adding he understood that tar balls were seen on the coast.
“As we speak, [the investigators] are still in the field and their findings will help us to know the nature and extent of the deposits, it cannot be business as usual,” he promised.
Officials of the Exxon oil fields, which are locally run by Mobil Producing Nigeria are maintaining silence over their claim to be investigating the source of the oil found within its operational area on Aug. 13.
Chief Okon Akpan Onwon, a community Leader in Mkpanak community in Ibeno, berated the oil firm for poor handling of oil spill matters.
“For over one week, Mobil people claimed they were investigating the source of the spill and till this moment they have continued in their culture (of) negligence and silence,” he said. “Why will it take such a long time to conduct the test and match the samples found in the beach?
He lamented that the company has taken the community for granted for too long. “They were ordered to clean up the coastline since last week and they deployed merely 40 youths to clean up a 20 km stretch of shoreline, they see the job as doing favour to the community rather than taking responsibility for their careless operations.”
Turning to the new spill, Chief Onwon said, “Now with the fresh spills where do we go from here? We are predominantly fishermen and cannot go to the sea until the coast becomes clear again, this is one spill too many.”