Social and Environmental impacts of extractives industries in Bayelsa state
Studies conducted in recent years in the Niger Delta by experts including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reveal the social and environmental impacts of oil and gas exploration and production. The report by the independent IUCN-Niger Delta Panel (IUCN-NDP),
March 2013, is of particular interest to SACA as it was conducted in Imiringi community in Kolo Creek Cluster, Bayelsa state. It is very relevant to SACA’s review of Shell’s GMoU . In our two years of collaborative inquiry with SPDC managers there was never a mention or reference to this report even though the panel was established in Jan 2012 at the request of Shell Nigeria, as an initiative to help improve the company’s environmental management.
This initiative must be commended. IUCN created the panel with the involvement of IUCN members in Nigeria, as well as IUCN Commissions and the IUCN Secretariat. The panel arose out of a concern among key stakeholders to improve upon remediation activities and to find a sustainable and peaceful approach towards rehabilitation of biodiversity in habitats affected by oil spills. The overall findings of the study indicated that the remediated environment and ecosystem had not fully recovered and may take some time to fully recover. The report states ‘that some of the heavy metals investigated in Kolo Creek surface water shows that some of them, namely chromium (Cr), nickel (Ni) and iron (Fe) had values above the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) regulatory limits. These metals have been associated with crude oil and therefore their presence may be related to thepresence of hydrocarbons in surface water.’ (Page 44).
The report also states ‘The total hydrocarbon content (THC) in the soils of Kolo Creek field was generally high and often exceeded the biogenic threshold and DPR target limit of 50 mg/kg. They ranged from 33.55 mg/kg to 748.82 mg/kg. The results show that the oil exploitation activities in the area have probably introduced hydrocarbon into the environment . . . the total hydrocarbon levels in the sediments (58.9-62.3mg/kg) and soils (36-749 mg/kg) were above the DPR target level limit.
The presence of such high concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons indicates remaining levels of pollution. . . these findings indicate that the ecosystem is exposed to stress, and that this stress is likely to be caused by the oil spills. . . they may also be seen as an indication that the environment and ecosystems has not fully recovered and may take some time to fully recover’. (P 68.) One wonders what this means for the people who live in this environment. Public health studies in Bayelsa should begin.