By Onome Oghenetega
There is tension among residents of NigerCat area of Ekpan in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State as oil spillage resulting from a ruptured pipeline alleged to be operated by Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited (HEOSL) is now posing danger to the residents of the area.
It was gathered that crude from the ruptured pipeline has reportedly flowed into some residential and private buildings in the area thereby causing fear of an imminent fire outbreak in the area.
NIGER DELTA TODAY Online gathered that the pipeline ruptured since Monday, 23rd of September 2019.
It was not clear if the incident was a result of third party interference but huge quantity of crude gushed into the surrounding including residential buildings.
According to a resident and member of the Izegbo family who are the ancestral landlords of the affected area, Mr Benson Otomiewo, the crude oil flowed like water into various compounds in the neighborhood contaminating their land, water, destroying plants and aquatic life.
Otomiewo noted that worst hit was a private property under construction belonging to Mr Austin Wareyai, whose building shares boundary with the faulty facility.
He explained that the crude oil forced its way into the compound through the fence and took over the compound, forcing construction work to stop.
Owner of the affected property, Mr Austin Wareyai, who spoke on the incident lamented that the spillage had forced him to stop construction works on the building which is near completion.
He stated that his property which has gulped millions of naira is under threat, as any little ignition will spell doom for it and others in the area.
According to him, “Hundreds of lives and property worth billions of naira will be lost should there be any fire outbreak, as the affected area is close to a filling station, Petroleum Tankers Park and several residential and business buildings.”
Mr Wareyai and Mr Otomiewo alleged that they have written series of letters to Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited (HEOSL) to clean up the affected areas and their letters have remained unattended.
They, however, appealed to the Federal and Delta State Governments, authorities of the NNPC, WRPC, PPMC, NOSDRA, Ministries of Environment, human rights and environmental justice groups to prevail on the management of HEOSL to urgently carry out an elaborate clean up of the area.
Meanwhile efforts by this medium to seek official response from the management HEOSL as at the time of publishing this report proved abortive.
When contacted on the development, General Manager, Community Relations of Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited (HEOSL) Sylvester Oko declined to comment on the matter and directed this medium to contact the firm’s Lagos office.
“I appreciate you for reaching out to me but unfortunately I am not in a position to speak on that because that is purely HSC element. Secondly, engaging with the press is exclusive to our corporate office in Lagos. So, I am very sorry”, Oko stated.
HEOSL’s Community Relations General Manager who, however, promised to provide our correspondent with details of the Lagos office details did not do so several hours as at the time of filing this report.