Shell is saying that last week's oil spill off the coast of Nigeria "has now been dispersed and contained"—but if that report seems like it's too good to be true exactly one week after an approximately 40,000-barrel spill made news as Nigeria's worst offshore spill in a decade, it might be.
Democracy Now! reports that Nigeria’s National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency says the spill could be three times as large as what Shell has reported. According to The Nation, a newspaper in Nigeria, environment minister Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafa estimated the spill would take up to six weeks to contain and would certainly impact marine life.
Fishing Communities Affected
While Shell says the spill not make it to shore, AFP and AllAfrica report that fishing communities along the coast are saying otherwise. A local environmental group that monitors oil spills in Nigeria has sent out monitors to areas where fishermen have reported seeing oil wash up. Such reports have so far come from two states, Bayelsa and Delta.
"In the course of the visit, spreading slick was sighted close to the coastline of Odioama and along St. Nicholas," it said in a report that included photos of streaks of what appeared to be oil just off the coastline.
"The footprint comes from the ocean," the group's head Nnimmo Bassey told AFP. "We suspect it is from Bonga."
And from AllAfrica:
The thick sign of the spillage from Shell's Bonga field has already been sighted along the Fish camp 2 at the Vanish Island and the St. Nicholas cove along the Atlantic shoreline close to Odioama on the fringes of the Atlantic Ocean in Brass local government area of Bayelsa State....
According to Mr. Lucky Tema, "I have been in this fishing camp here in Odioama for about twelve years now. I am an Ilaje man and fishing is my main occupation... If you go into the ocean you will find the thick slick of crude oil floating, tossed here and there by the waves. It is spreading according to the direction of the current. That is what we are seeing even right here at the waterside on St. Nicholas.
"As a fisherman, one of the things I know about this crude oil is that, apart from killing aquatic life, it chases away the fishes that used to be around. If our nets get in contact with the crude oil it will stain the nets and, because of the smell and colour, fish will notice and avoid such nets in the water. You can see the little catch that I returned with.