Pipeline explosion: We thought Armageddon had come – Idheze community

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  • Delta govt. should compel oil firm to clean up spillage

The people of Idheze in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State are now living in great fears about the danger posed to their health by an oil spillage that allegedly occurred in the area on June 13 following the rupturing of a pipeline being operated by a firm (names withheld) exploring crude in the area.
Consequently, they have asked the state government to hold the oil exploration firm responsible for the spillage and the resultant fire outbreak, which they claimed now posed serious threat to their health.
They have also asked the government to compel the oil firm to urgently embark on the clean-up of the community.
Recounting how the incident occurred, a resident of the community, Mr. Rueben Emeleze, explained that while the residents who had retired to bed after a hard day’s work were fast asleep, they were woken up suddenly by a loud bang, which shook the whole area.
Emeleze said that the people who ran out from their houses and headed towards different directions, thinking Armageddon had come, were enveloped with a thick smoke covering the atmosphere.
He added that within minutes, a huge ball of fire emerged from nowhere, rose and exploded, setting everywhere ablaze.
The frightened but lucky residents, Emeleze said, scampered to safety, leaving in their trail the conflagration which raged in the community for some time.
He, however, expressed regret that the oil firm involved did not respond promptly to a distress message from the community during the incident.
Emeleze also alleged that since the incident, the oil firm had yet to show any concern or address the issue.
He said, “It was like a bomb explosion that night. We thought the world was coming to an end. It was highly unexpected and surprising. But most surprising was the fact that AGIP, even when called, didn’t come on time to salvage the situation. It resulted in a fire outbreak. We all fled our homes.”
Emeleze further alleged that the atmosphere in the community had remained polluted with the dense smell of crude being perceived and breathed in by residents who had now become afraid for their lives.
He therefore appealed to the state government to urgently look into the matter with a view to getting the oil firm to embark on a clean-up of the community.
“Government should get involved in this case unless they want us all to die,” Emeleze said.
The Chairman of Idheze Community, Mr. Feme Samson, told our correspondent that the failure of the oil exploration company to send environmental expatriates to the community to examine the extent of damage on the land and the atmosphere, had continued to instil fear in the minds of residents.
Samson added, “Failure to clean up the oil residue in the community is presently posing serious danger to the health of the people.
“We are not surprised at the response we are getting. We have sent letters to the company. Our hope is that the government will put efforts into the issue in order to foster quick response.”
The Idheze community chairman, however, appealed to the youths in the area to remain calm and not to take laws into their hands adding that resorting to violence would do no one any good.
“It is not encouraging to take laws into our hands. We will address this quandry with all instruments within the confines of the law,” Samson said.