Polluted & Contaminated Niger Delta
The Federal Government is partnering with the United Kingdom (UK) to understudy the cleanup and remediation programme of Ogoniland, which has been a victim of environmental degradation for decades.
To this end, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is facilitating the visit of Nigerian government officials to the United Kingdom enable the government to evaluate the project with international best practices for cleanup of contaminated sites.
Minister of Environment, Suleiman Hassan Zarma, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, noted that experts have argued that restoration of Ogoniland initiated by the Federal Government could be the world’s most complex and longest cleanup exercise. He explained that UNEP assessed the extent and severity of the contamination in 2011 and found widespread pollution due to oil production spanning several decades in the Niger Delta region.
He stated that despite this gloomy assertions the Nigerian government was committed to following its recommendations, which reinforced President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to restore livelihood in Ogoniland.
The statement added that the creation of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), charged with managing the cleanup process, was meant to achieve better delivery.
It also disclosed that the minister was a prominent member of HYPREP’s Governing Council, adding that he was among other senior stakeholders on working visits to five sites in the UK.
The sites are, Biogénie’s Trecatti and Redhill soil treatment facilities in South Wales and South East England, Coed Darcy regeneration project in South Wales, former Avenue Coking Works in East Midlands and ALS Laboratories in North West England.
The team will also visit Chester Laboratory in North West England, which would focus on quality, accreditation, sample preparation, and analysis of petroleum hydrocarbons, reporting, and interpretation of the analysis.
Delegates will have the opportunity to tour the modern laboratory facility and identify aspects that could be replicated in Nigeria to increase the overall quality of local laboratories. Biogénie’s Trecatti contaminated soil treatment facility in Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales is capable of cleaning up a variety of contaminants with a specific focus on soils impacted by petroleum hydrocarbons, among others.
However, by 2027, the redeveloped site would be transformed into a new £1.2 billion village that would accommodate no fewer than 10,000 people. The UNEP’s 2011 Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland evaluated to that bring back ecosystems to full productive health could take up to 30 years.
The report had recommended $1 billion for the first five years of remediation activities and once complete, the cleanup of Ogoniland could serve as a model for replication in both Nigeria and the region.