Fishing Suspended in Nigeria As Cleanup After Offshore Shell Spill Continues

ENS reports that Nigerian officials have suspended fishing off the southern coast of Nigeria as oil washes ashore following an offshore oil spill in late December.

The spill from Shell's 200,000-barrel-a-day Bonga facility is said to be the worst in the area in 13 years. The company estimated the spill at less than 40,000 barrels (1.7 million gallons), but satellite images from U.S.-based environmental group SkyTruth suggest the spill may have involved up to 2.4 million gallons.

Days after the December 20 spill, Shell said the oil had been dispersed while fishing villages along the shore were saying otherwise.

Shell Nigeria's, Country Chair, Mutiu Sunmonu, said in a statement on Christmas day, "I am very sorry the leak from Bonga happened in the first place, but am now happy to confirm the oil has dispersed."

Not only are local residents not convinced, but now their livelihoods are impaired as well. They were already concerned about the impact of the oil on marine life, but it's gotten bad enough that they're told they shouldn't even be trying. More from ENS:

Fishermen in Akwa Ibom State are complaining about the suspension directive issued by the Nigerian Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, Reverend Samuel Ayadi, who chairs the Akwa Ibom chapter of Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday.

NOSDRA head Sir Peter Idabor warns that the leak could be three times as large as Shell admits and may be the country's worst case of oil pollution in 10 years.

"This is potentially a major incident that is likely to affect the environment and the people for a long time," Idabor said.

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