Joinkrama 4, popularly called JK4, is an Engene-speaking Ijaw community settled along the Taylor Creek and administratively situated in Ahoada West Local Government Area of River State, sharing boundaries with Biseni and Ikarama communities from the Yenagoa local government area in Bayelsa State. JK4 is in the Edagberi/Betterland Community area where there are over 40 oil wells drilled and operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (hereafter SPDC). Additionally, several crude oil pipelines and Shell’s Adibawa Flow Station are located within the community’s territory.
Field monitors from Environmental Rights Action (hereafter ERA), namely Friends of the Earth Nigeria, visited the community by May 2002 and reported that the Adibawa lake was heavily polluted. They observed that oil slick was floating on its surface. This situation heavily impacts on fishermen daily life and the community folks as a whole.
“Shell has not been fair to the community in terms of amenities say the leaders of the JK4 community, even though so much wealth is pumped out from our community soil daily. The population has been drinking from the Taylor Creek that has often been polluted by crude oil spills from the company’s failed oil facilities” . “Without pipe borne water the people have been drinking from the Taylor Creek that has often been polluted by crude oil spills” . Lots of oil spills are occurring, caused by old, rusty pipes in the community environment, and equipment failure. These material and equipment defects are confirmed by Shell itself. The company did some section replacements of the 12-inch Adibawa/Okordia delivery line in the first quarter of 2010. On September 18th in 2010, community people reported an oil spill caused by a sabotage, for which a Shell staff member and unknown community youth are responsible. The area is yet to undergo adequate compensation by the oil company, as affected community people have lost their means of livelihoods. On October 10th, 2011, ERA heard of a protest by women in the community, triggered by the pollution of the water potable sources, and ERA promptly visited the community . Again by 2013, a member of the Caretaker Committee of JK4 community Mr.Ambrose Kofi Osuolo led ERA's field monitors to the spill sites and made related statements in response to questions: “I am the Assistant Secretary of the Caretaker Committee of JK4 (Edagberi/Betterland) community. We noticed the spills on the 30th of April 2013 and Shell came for Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) on the 3rd of May, 2013. I represented my community on the JIV but the JIV was inconclusive due to different views held about the cause of spill. While Shell attributed the cause to sabotage, that the pipeline was drilled in; I was not convinced and hence, we didn’t sign the JIV report. Although Shell came purposely for this particular spill, we discovered two more spill points within this Well 2 environment on that same day. The affected pipeline conveys crude oil from Well 2 to the nearby Adibawa Flow station. We reported to the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment so that the Ministry can put pressure on Shell to come and mop up the spilt crude oil in the environment. We were so concerned because the crude oil is spreading in the swamps; especially with the rains. The Ministry was of the view that whatever differences there are about the cause of spill; the spill should be prevented from spreading; hence a claims agent was given the mandate to try and contain the spread. The Shell official who led the Shell team on the 3rd of May, 2013 was Tunde Joel, a Community Liaison Officer (CLO). One man we simply know as Ikainam, a Shell’s Production leader was here to with them. This is the second spill point and, it is clear that the pipeline was tampered with by a third party. Shaw was used to cut it. There was no dispute about this. What we want Shell to do is to come and clean up the site”. At the third spill point Ambrose said: “This rupture occurred at a joint; where two lengths of pipe were welded together. And up till now you can see that the spill point is bubbling; yet to be clamped by SPDC.”
Yet slow responses by Shell to its pipelines’ spills are recurrent, being constantly denounced by ERA. The NGO regrets that more than six months after a spill at Adibawa oil field from well 8 in July 2015, the clean-up of oil had still to be completed . ERA reports that on January 20th2016, exactly seven months after the spill, the impacted site went up in flames . Shell informed ERA that it was going to go work on the recovery of the site. The NGO’s field monitors are disappointing: “The visit to the site didn’t prove anything beyond the usual crude method of physically clearing burnt trees and other plants by felling them and heaping within the same environment and, going further to turn top soil upside down” . The community members complained that Shell burned their bush/forest instead of operating a proper clean-up of the spill.