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Abandoned Oil Well Explodes in Bayelsa, Damages Fishing Settlements

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Israel Ojoko
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Abandoned Oil Well Explodes in Bayelsa, Damages Fishing Settlements

A loud explosion rocked the Bendick-Kiri area in Okpoama Kingdom in the Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on Wednesday, October 25, 2023.

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The explosion was caused by an abandoned oil well that had been leaking gas and oil for years. The explosion damaged several fishing settlements and boats, and injured some residents.

The Explosion

The explosion occurred around 10 am on Wednesday, when residents of the Bendick-Kiri community heard a loud bang and saw flames and smoke rising from the nearby oil well. The oil well, which belongs to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), had been abandoned since 2012, after it was shut down due to a court order.

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However, the well had not been properly sealed or decommissioned, and had been leaking gas and oil into the environment.

The explosion triggered a fire that spread to the surrounding fishing settlements and boats, which were made of wood and other flammable materials. The fire also reached some pipelines that connected the oil well to other facilities. The fire brigade and the NAOC emergency response team arrived at the scene and managed to contain the fire after several hours.

The Impact

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The explosion and the fire caused extensive damage and losses to the Bendick-Kiri community, which depends on fishing for its livelihood. According to the community leader, Chief Ebiotu Clinton, about 50 fishing settlements and 100 boats were destroyed by the fire.

He also said that some residents suffered burns and injuries from the explosion and were taken to the hospital for treatment.

The explosion also posed a serious threat to the environment and public health, as it released large amounts of gas and oil into the air, water, and soil. The gas and oil could cause respiratory problems, skin irritations, and water contamination for the residents and wildlife in the area. The explosion also violated the environmental regulations and standards that govern the oil industry in Nigeria.

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The Response

The explosion has sparked outrage and condemnation from the Bendick-Kiri community and other stakeholders in Bayelsa State. They have accused NAOC of negligence and irresponsibility for failing to properly seal or decommission the abandoned oil well, despite several complaints and petitions from the community. They have also demanded compensation and justice from NAOC and the government for their losses and damages.

The Bayelsa State government has expressed its concern and sympathy for the affected community, and has promised to investigate the cause and circumstances of the explosion. The government has also said that it will hold NAOC accountable for its actions and ensure that it complies with the environmental laws and regulations. The government has also pledged to provide relief and assistance to the victims of the explosion.

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