September 15, 2012 / 7:45 PM / 7 years ago

Eni says oil spill contained in Nigeria's Delta

YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Italian oil firm Eni said on Saturday an oil spill near its facilities in the Niger Delta had been contained, but local people said the pollution had spread and damaged their fishing.

Eni said the spill occurred last week about 10 km (six miles) from the Obama flowstation in Bayelsa state.

“We do not yet have information either on the causes or the amount of oil affected,” an Eni spokesman told Reuters.

Oil spills are common in Nigeria, where enforcement of environmental regulations is lax and armed gangs frequently damage pipelines to steal crude.

Local community leaders said the spill came from an Eni pipeline and had spread into creeks and waterways. They complained oil companies had not properly cleaned up previous spills.

“Oil companies operating in the Niger Delta are now using harmful chemicals ... which is injurious to both sea foods, living organisms and human beings,” said Nengi James, Chairman of the Oil and Gas Committee of Nembe Kingdom.

Decades of oil production in the delta, where Africa’s second-longest river empties into the Atlantic, have turned parts of it into a wasteland of oily water and dead mangroves. Thousands of barrels are spilled every year.

Reporting by Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa and Stephen Jewkes in Milan; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Andrew Roche

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