Fishermen operating in the shallow waters of the Atlantic Ocean near Bayelsa coastline on Sunday reported an oil leak suspected to be from the Funiwa oilfield operated by Chevron Nigeria (CNL).
Fishermen from Koluama community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area noticed crude on the waters near the oil facility as helicopters were seen overflying the area.
Tombra Ebitimi, a fisherman from the coastal settlement said that he noticed the incident on Saturday night and subsequently reported same to the community leadership.
He said that several helicopters have been deployed to the area for assessment as response efforts were yet to commence.
“Some of us who went on fishing sailed into the oil contaminated area near the Funiwa oilfield and got our nets and fishing gear soaked with crude on Saturday, by today we noticed some helicopters over-fly the facility by today.
“It could be that community leaders have informed the company but our concern is that they should not apply toxic chemicals from the sky to dissolve the oil. Those chemicals used to disperse and breakdown crude is unfriendly to fishes and marine life generally,” Ebitimi said.
He said that fishermen in the area had temporarily suspended fishing to avoid catching contaminated fishes that could jeopardise public health.
First Exploration and Production an indigenous oil firm operates Oil Mining Leases 83 and 85 acquired from Chevron following its divestment from some of its assets in the area where it still retains interests in some fields.
Officials of Chevron and First Exploration and Production are yet to respond to requests for comments on the incident.