Companies interested in the cleanup of Ogoniland have already mobilised to site to display their competencies.
A member of the Board of Trustees of the Hydrocarbon Remediation Project (HYPREP), Mr. Mike Emuh, disclosed this in an interview with journalists.
Emuh, who is also the National Chairman of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM), said the Ogoni cleanup was technically demanding, thus taking much time than other projects.
Emuh, who is representing oil-producing communities on the HYPREP Board, said the cleanup was present at the demonstration stages.
He said the project was also delayed because of other factors, including Nigeria’s economic recession and the inability of the Federal Government to include the project in the budget in 2016 and 2017.
Meanwhile, there are strong indications that the cleanup of over 2,500 contaminated sites in Nigeria’s oil producing areas would cost the federal government and other stakeholders over $50 billion.
A breakdown showed that it would cost $6 billion to cleanup Ogoniland alone while other parts of the Niger Delta would gulp about $44 billion.
The exercise, it was gathered would take more than 50 years to execute through massive deployment of suitable technologies, experts and volunteers.
The Distinguished Professor Hilary Inyang who has completed a scientific study of the areas disclosed in an exclusive interview that, “A deep analysis should show that it would cost more than US$50 billion to clean up more than 2500 sites in the entire Niger Delta, even with the recognition that there have been more spills than spill sites.
“It would also take more than 50 years, even if that money was available. My back-of-the-envelope estimate is that for Ogoniland sites alone, about US$6 billion are needed but risks can be reduced to tolerable levels with US$3 billion.
“So, it is quite untenable to attempt clean-up/remediation of all contaminated sites there. Technically, it is impossible to clean up all the sites in Niger Delta. A screening system that combines cost, ecological, proximal population and other rational factors should be quickly developed for use in selecting about 100-150 sites for focus.
“From my review of circumstances at some sites, about 30 per cent of the sites will simply need to be evacuated because of the risk of cumulative exposure to contaminants. Evacuation happens in other parts of the world under such circumstances. Examples are Chernobyl, and heavy metal contaminated areas in Southeast Asia. It is exceeding romantic to think that one will always occupy his/her native environment. That has not been the case throughout human history.’’
He also added that there are very many environmental problems in the oil and gas-producing areas of Nigeria, especially oil spills, including groundwater pollution, surface water pollution and damage to aquatic and shallow marine life; acid rain and air quality degradation due to gas flaring; and biodiversity loss. According to him, environmental pollution is a contributor to the low life expectancy of about 54.6 years estimated for all parts of Nigeria.
He stated that ‘‘the conditions are worse in some areas of the Niger Delta because of the large number of both legacy oil pollution sites and more recent oil spills which my assessments put at about 2900 in 2010 when I spent two years in Nigeria on the issue.’’