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False Claim That Ogoni Cleanup Is Largest In The World

False Claim That Ogoni Cleanup Is Largest In The World

In this report, ODIMEGWU ONWUMERE takes as sham a comment made by a public servant that Ogoni cleanup is a largest project and the largest cleanup in the world

Polluted site in Ogoni

When President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, June 2 2016, inaugurated the cleanup of Ogoniland in Rivers State, polluted by crude oil, there was high hope that the cleanup exercise won’t tarry. It was his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo whom Buhari delegated for the kick-off exercise.

At the event at Bodo, Gokana Local Government Area, one of the local councils in Ogoni, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, ministers, and a UN representative, were in attendance. They attended the kick-off exercise of the 2011 report recommendation by the United Nation Environmental Programme, UNEP, mandating the Federal Government and multinational oil companies operating in Ogoni, to scrub up the heavily polluted Ogoniland.

It is almost 3 years since the Ogoni cleanup exercise was performed and the promise has not been met. What has characterised the project is a shift of date to commence work to another. Nevertheless, many people have fingered the aftermath of the kick-off exercise as laced with political coloration.

Those in this line of thought might not be far from the truth given a spurious statement credited to Ambassador Royal Kingdom of Netherlands to Nigeria, Robert Petri, when he visited the corporate office of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

In an article in The Nation, November 28, 2018, titled, ‘Ogoni cleanup is the largest in the World’, Ambassador Petri was quoted to have said, “Ogoni cleanup is a large project, even the largest cleanup in the whole world. Nigeria is making history with this project. It will set example worldwide.”

#Misleading… What Data Says Of Largest Oil Spill

There wouldn’t be any contradiction to say that Ambassador Petri was intended to launder the image of Nigeria before the international community with the cleanup project or draw self-pity for the Federal Government.

Investigations revealed that all the oil spills in Ogoni from when oil was discovered in the Niger Delta in 1958 to date, and the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) later started operations in Ogoniland, drilling a total of 96 wells to bring nine oil fields onstream, one spill in the Bay of Campeche of the Gulf of Mexico in its entirety that damaged an oil well operated by the Mexican petroleum company, Pemex, in June, 1979, bedevils the claim by the Ambassador.

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Bay of Campeche of the Gulf of Mexico: “Around 140 million gallons oil – almost 10,000 to 30,000 barrels oil were gushing out per day, and discharged into the sea during a ten months period of time.”

If 30, 000 barrels of oil spilt each day at the Gulf of Mexico are multiplied by a duration of ten months, there won’t be less than 9,000,000 barrels of wasted oil in the Gulf. And this surpassed about 7,000 oil spills in the entire Niger Delta area (not only in Ogoniland), which data said occurred between 1970 and beyond.

A report in TheCable, December 3 2018, titled, ‘Inside Ogoni village where oil spill wipes off 10 persons every week’, the source said, “Oil spills in Nigeria dates back to the 1970s, and according to records, there were about 7,000 oil spills between 1970 and 2000.

“The Nigerian Oil Spill Monitor recorded some 5,296 oil spills between January 2005 and July 2014. As of 2010, Royal Dutch Shell admitted to have spilled nearly 14,000 tons (about 100,000 barrels of oil) which was majorly across the oil-rich Ogoni, made up of a total of 18 communities in four local government areas.”

#Disproving Ambassador Petri’s Claim As Misleading

If Royal Dutch Shell’s position should be taken, there was no way 100,000 barrels of oil spills  “which was majorly across the oil-rich Ogoni” would be more than 9,000,000 barrels of oil spills recorded only in Gulf of Mexico.

Map Showing Areas where oil pipes crossed around Ogoni

#Sieving Facts From Fiction: Compare Ogoni Land Mass To Others

However, the Ogoni people (also known as the Ogonis) are one of the many indigenous peoples in the region of south-east/south-south Nigeria, as according to Wikipedea. They now number about over two million people and live in a 404-square-mile (1,050 km2) homeland which they also refer to as Ogoni, or Ogoniland.

While Ogoniland was said to sit on 404-square-mile, the spill in a part of Kuwait was said to cover 4,000 km2 and the spill in Bay of Campeche in Mexico, was said to had covered the area of 1100 square miles.

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Juxtaposing to this, it’s clear that both the number of oil spills in the (entire Niger Delta area) Ogoni and the land mass of the later especially, are infinitesimal compared to what happened in a part of Kuwait and Bay of Campeche in Mexico respectively.

#Fact: See A Tiny Ogoni Land Mass Affected By Oil Spill

According to NCBI report titled, ‘Oil Contamination in Ogoniland, Niger Delta’, published online on June 8 2013, “The spills in Ogoni have caused extensive damage to the mangroves, where large areas of the vegetation have died.

“The concentration of oil in streams and creeks was up to 7420 μg L−1, in sediments from the bottom of creeks, streams, and other water bodies up to 17 900 mg kg−1.” This is far below Km2.

#Reminder: The Entire Ogoniland sits on just 404-square-mile

With the above, in Cleaner Seas, June 16 2015, with the article titled, ‘10 Worst Oil Spills in World History’, it was crystal clear that the oil pollution in Ogoni was nowhere in the history of countries and places devastated by heavy oil spills covering mass areas of land and seas.

#Reminder: According To The Source

  1. “The largest oil spill occurred in Kuwait during the Gulf war on 19 January 1991. It was a deliberate act by the Iraqi forces as they opened oil valves to slow down the advance of American troops. Around 330 million gallons of oil were spilled on to the sea, which covered more than 4,000 km2 with a 4 inch thick oil slick.”
  2.  “Oil well Ixtoc 1 in the Bay of Campeche in Mexico exploded due to pressure buildup in June 1979, releasing 140 million gallons into the sea for ten months. The spilled oil covered the area of 1100 square miles and caused severe damage to marine life.”

#Reminder: Still Comparing Concentration Area Where Oil Is Spilt In Ogoni To Kuwait’s

  1. Ogoni: “The concentration of oil in streams and creeks was up to 7420 μg L−1, in sediments from the bottom of creeks, streams, and other water bodies up to 17 900 mg kg−1.”
  1. Kuwait: “The largest oil spill occurred in Kuwait during the Gulf war on 19 January 1991. It was a deliberate act by the Iraqi forces as they opened oil valves to slow down the advance of American troops. Millions of gallons of oil were spilled on to the sea, which covered more than 4,000 km2 with a 4 inch thick oil slick.”
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It’s evidence that the oil spilt in Kuwait on 19 January 1991 covered an area more than the entire Ogoni. The entire Ogoni was said to sit on 404 Km2, whereas only the Kuwait’s sea where her oil was spilt covered 4,000km2.

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon in this handout photograph taken on April 21, 2010. (Us Coast GuardReuters)

#Stop Playing Politics With Ogoni Clean-Up

During the kick-off of the cleanup exercise, Prof. Osinbajo revealed that the project will cost $1b and the funds will be provided by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). This was made known in an 2017 AIT report with the title, ‘Ogoni Clean-Up Will Cost $1b, Says Yemi Osinbajo’.

According to the report, “He said the governing structure for the clean-up has been established, and a chief executive appointed by the Governing Council….

“On 16 February, the council will perform a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of an integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre, provided for in the UNEP Report.”

However, whereas Nigeria was looking for what could be called a mere $1b to cleanup Ogoni of her oil spill that occurred between the 70s to 2000s, see what a Yahoo report said of cost to cleanup an oil spill.

An answer by Yahoo to the cost to clean up an oil spill: “Cleanup costs for an oil spill could be between $2.4 billion and $9.4 billion dollars…”

Whereas Osinbajo had said his views based on the position he occupies, the authorities concerned to superintend the cleanup have without a doubt, questionable intention to cleanup and restore Ogoni land. Their approach looked sketchy; the same way Ambassador Petri’s comment was woolly.

As according to a report in TheGuardian of December 23 2018, titled ‘Ogoni cleanup delay: Denying people good drinking water’: “The Federal Government intention to cleanup and restore Ogoni land still looks like a mirage, as there is no clarity of purpose and transparency in executing the assignment 7 years after the UNEP report.”

Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

  • SOURCE: OoReporters


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Updated: May 9, 2019 — 5:43 am

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