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Shell Reigniting Of Flare In Gbarantoru Community Eco-terrorism, Says ERA/FoEN

By Obiabin Onukwugha

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has described the decision by Shell Nigeria to ignite fire and flare gas at one of its facilities in Gbarantoru community, Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State as Eco-Terrorism.

ERA/FoEN pointed out that the vegetation, lives and property of victims of the community are under attack by this horizontal emission of noxious gases coming from the facility. It said the flares negate the principle behind Article 24 of African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right.

This comes after a visit to the community by a team from the Yenagoa office of the body, led by its Program Manager and Head of the Niger Delta Resource Center in Bayelsa, Comrade Alagoa Morris, on the 1st March, 2024.

ERA/FoEN, which called on the federal government to compel Shell to stop the flare, said the visit came after a distress call by members of the community who feared for their lives and their environment due to the flares.

ERA/FoEN, in a statement made available to NatureNews on Tuesday, also observed that very high pressure liquid suspected to be water was being sprayed into the air in the direction of the huge Flare. The sprayed water, the body noted, might be technically viewed as reducing heat produced by the flame or have some chemical reaction with the noxious gases so released. It said this is left for experts to properly explain.

The statement read in part: “Gbarantoru in Ekpetiama kingdom of Yenagoa LGA is a relatively large community and densely populated. During the visit ERA/FoEN monitors observed the gas flare from Shell facility furiously blasting away. Not only was the horizontally flared gas so huge and menacingly noisy, the threat to buildings in the community was obvious as they continue to vibrate rhythmically. A school within the vicinity was forced to shut as a direct result of the impact of the flares.

“ERA/FoEN also observed that very high pressure liquid suspected to be water was being sprayed into the air in the direction of the huge Flare. The sprayed water might be technically viewed as reducing heat produced by the flame or have some chemical reaction with the noxious gases so released. This is left for experts to properly explain.”

The environmental body quoted the leadership and residents of the community of lamenting the devastating impact of the operations of Shell on the community.

It said an Indigene of Gbarantoru and former Councilor in Yenagoa LGA, Seiyefa Saiyou Jones, expressed his regret at the attitude of disdain and lack of concern for the people displayed by Shell.

He stated that the community has become unbearable to live as the peace, health and safety of the people are under threat due to the vicious gas flaring by Shell.

According to Jones, residents, including children can no longer sleep at night due to the noise from the raging gas flare. “The entire buildings are vibrating. Besides the light from the flare, the vibration of the house is so alarming. This is about the fourth day since they put on the gas flare. It is so alarming in the night, I can’t sleep; my children can’t sleep. We all remain vigilant, awake all through the night.

“This is happening in the heart of the community. They are supposed to relocate those to be affected and compensate them. You can hear the noise. This is even more than the sound of aero plane landing at the airport. Due to this gas flare, the primary school was forced to go on vacation. How can they learn under this atmosphere? he lamented.

The Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama kingdom, HRM King Bubaraye Dakolo, Agada 1V likened the ongoing gas flaring in the community to pumping in toxic and harmful gas into the body system of the people. According to him, the people of the community may die from the harmful substances that have been released into the air.

Reacting to the development, the Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Chima Williams said that Shell’s action prompting victims to cry out is nothing but Eco-Terrorism, as the vegetation, lives and property of victims are under attack by this horizontal emission of noxious gases

Williams added that the flares negate the principle behind Article 24 of African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right.

He frowned at the Nigerian government for turning a blind eye to the obvious abuse of the rights of the locals to a safe environment to thrive at a time when countries and leaders are initiating better policies to safeguard the health and safety of the environment.

Williams called on the Federal Ministries of Petroleum and Environment to prevail on Shell to Stop the ongoing Eco-Terrorism by Shell in Gbarantoru.

He also urged the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment to bridge the gap with formal complaint to the Federal Authorities concerning the unacceptable action by Shell.

 

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