Social and Environmental impacts of extractives industries in Bayelsa state
The UNEP conducted an environmental assessment in Ogoniland and published their findings in 2011. They reported that ‘exposure to high levels of hydrocarbons is certain to lead to long-term health consequences for community members... it is recommended that all members of households who have ingested water from hydrocarbon-contaminated
sources are registered in a central data base and requested to undergo a comprehensive medical examination by medical personnel familiar with adverse effects arising from contaminated drinking water. In addition, their health should be tracked during their lifetime as some of the impacts of hydrocarbon exposure, such as cancer, may not manifest, for a very long time.’ (P. 125, UNEP report).
SACA met with the Ministry of Health in Bayelsa and confirmed that no such recommendations are being followed in the State. Furthermore, SACA monitored SPDC spills in their clusters. We noted that in their JIV reports they give what Amnesty International describe as ‘Bad Information’. For example the JIV report (Spill incident Number 1109543) at Ikarama Okordia Manifold for 27th Jan 2014 states:
<Distance from the nearest sensitive habitat…
< Government reserved and designated protected area [Nil]
< Drinking water source [Nil]
< Built up area [Nil]
SACA understand that Ikarama community is part of Taylor Creek Conservation Area and the massive SPDC oil spills each year occur in this designated area. There are drinking water sources within the immediate vicinity of the manifold in nearby homes including Taylor Creek itself. The JIV report ignores these facts.
Also, the JIV document asks the critical question:
‘Type/Numbers of properties, if any, found within the area of spread of oil ’.
SPDC’s answer to this important question was “NONE Within the Area of Impact”.
SACA produced the documentary called ‘The Babies in the Oil field’ and another one called ‘The Ambassador in the Oil field’. These DVD documentaries show homes with adults and children in the oil impacted spill areas and contradict what SPDC write on this particular JIV report.
It is difficult to make sense of why there is such indifference to the plight of women and children. SACA removed the children and their parents from their mud house which was enveloped by crude oil from the spill. SPDC ignored the plight of these children and their parents. And the JIV report signed by SPDC failed to acknowledge their existence.
SACA recommend IUCN to study the negative social and environmental impacts of Okordia Zarama cluster where oil spills due to sabotage and equipment failure are regular occurrences. There are no social or environmental impact assessments available in ‘Taylor Creek Conservation Area’.
SACA recently commissioned a Post Remediation Assessment of Levels of Contaminants within Oya Lake in Ikarama community in this same conservation area where a massive oil spill in December 2008 flooded the lake and environs (See SACA’s Post-Remediation Analysis of Oya Lake - Appendix II).
Laboratory results concluded that: ‘… the soil sample of the study area adjoining Oya Lake is still badly contaminated by some persistent heavy metals. . .that the sediment sample within Oya Lake’s vicinity is also badly contaminated with persistent heavy metals. . . that the surface water is seriously contaminated with some persistent heavy metals … iron, lead, copper, cadmium and chromium were all found to be far above the recommended maximum permissible limits.
SACA requested SPDC to respond to this assessment in writing. The General Manager for Community Relations wrote to SACA and informed us that: ‘we have had our relevant department review the report. The report has severe technical deficiencies that raise considerable doubts about its conclusions.’That was the only response we received to the scientific laboratory results for Oya Lake. However, we have learned that SPDC have, due to SACA’s persistence, commissioned a very professional team of experts toconduct studies in Oya Lake recently. We await their findings as do ECCR and Amnesty International.