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Thursday 24 April  
Chief St. Emmanuel Pii of Bodo (Nigeria)
Hélène Michaud's picture
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Ogoniland, Nigeria
Ogoniland, Nigeria

Niger Delta oil spills: will the blame game end?

Published on : 17 November 2011 - 11:59am | By Hélène Michaud (Photo : Hélène Michaud)
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“Where’s the fish? There’s no fish in this water”. Chief St. Emmanuel Pii is afraid he will never see his community in the Niger Delta back the way it was before. A lively little harbour in the Niger Delta, with fish and shellfish in abundance. In 2008, hundreds, if not thousands of barrels of spilt crude oil landed there.

By Hélène Michaud, Ogoniland

It is low tide and easy to see that the rich mangrove forest adorning the river’s ramifications, is dead. Black. The river bed: black, covered with a thick layer of oil, as far as we can see on the horizon. The staunch. The drinking water undrinkable, with some toxic chemicals at unimaginable levels.

Bodo is a rural fishing community of around 70 thousand people that can no longer fish. Near the harbour, I meet two shy 18- year- olds, Daniel and Thorance.

With the fishing, they used to pay their school fees. Today, a car full of goods came. They and ten other boys rushed to see if they could be hired to help unload it. Otherwise they hang around with nothing to do. “We dropped out of school.”

Shell has admitted responsibility for the tragedy and is required to clean up the mess and pay compensation. Three years later, nothing has happened, the chief says, pointing at the devastated landscape.

“Shell has been given us deaf ear. They’re after their profit. They don’t care about human life”.

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Audio report- Helene Michaud asks why oil spills are not being cleaned up in the Niger Delta


  • There is work!<br>&copy; Photo : Hélène Michaud - http://www.rnw.nl/africa
  • No more fish in Ogoniland<br>&copy; Photo : Hélène Michaud - http://www.rnw.nl/africa
  • Oil slick in Nigerian river<br>&copy; Photo : Hélène Michaud - http://www.rnw.nl/africa

No access
The company sees it differently. Tony Attah, Vice-President Health Safety and Environment and Corporate Affairs, says that the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC - Shell’s joint venture in Nigeria), is prepared to start cleaning up the spills, but that communities in the Ogoni region simply refuse to grant the company access to the polluted sites.

“In Nigeria you cannot enter someone’s community without them letting you in, so for them to allow us in to come and clean up, it’s almost as if in their minds we’re coming in to clean up evidences, that’s the way they’ve handled it ,” he told RNW in an interview at the company headquarters in Port Harcourt. “The reality is we’ve asked to come in many times, we’ve been denied, people are talking compensation rather than cleaning.” He said that very often the communities see a spill as a potential source of income.

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Who's lying?
Villagers, when asked, deny they’ve prevented Shell from entering to clean up the spills. So who’s lying?
I the case of Bodo, Attah says an ongoing court case in the UK is making it difficult to communicate with the community. “We’re hearing that the lawyers want you to speak through them. You cannot speak to communities directly any more, you can only speak to them through intermediaries. I can only believe that this kind of situation makes it even worse and complicates the whole issue.”

Almost 20 years after the oil giant suspended its operations in this oil-rich region of the Delta, Shell still has a strained relationship with Ogoniland.

“We have a history with the Ogoni area. It’s not a conventional Delta community. Access has been a huge challenge for us.”

That’s why Shell says the Nigerian government should take the lead in the cleanup operations.
“Because of the long history we have with the Ogonis, this is not the place you can just take things by yourself and walk in. (..), government has to lead the way, otherwise you will not be trusted. That is the reality.”

Urgent measures
Meanwhile, the Nigerian government is keeping silent. After the release of a critical report by UNEP calling for urgent measures to restore the devastated environment caused by oil spills in Ogoniland, the President set up a special committee chaired by Petroleum Minister and former Shell executive ( Diezani Alison-Madueke) to deal with the matter. Tony Attah says that he is “personally uncomfortable” with that committee’s own silence.

The villagers, and even Shell’s fiercest critics, the environmental organization Friends of the Earth, and Amnesty International, all believe Shell should take the lead. FoE chairman Nnimo Bassey, told RNW that “Shell cannot base its action on the response of the Nigerian government. What they’ve done is a crime against humanity, and this report by an impartial UN agency is enough for them to tell the government: this is what we’re doing.”

Lack of confidence
Ogoni villagers, environmentalists and human rights activists alike, despite their criticism of Shell’s failure to clean up the spills, share a profound lack of confidence in the Nigerian government’s ability or willingness to act.

But while the big players point fingers at each other, innocent victims of the spills like Daniel and Thorance continue to suffer. Their message to the Dutch journalist: “We want you people to help us so that we can go back to our fishing”.

Discussion

Bill Reeder 2 April 2012 - 10:28pm / USA

Oil Spill Eater II EMULATING MOTHER NATURE

HOW BIOREMEDIATION OCCURS IN MOTHER NATURE

We need to first explain what happens In Mother Nature when a hazardous
material is spilled. (Note that the key words used here are set in bold and defined in a simple glossary on the last page.)

There is a myriad of bacteria everywhere on the planet. Where a toxic spill comes in direct
contact with bacteria, that bacteria is killed or dies off. Bacteria that is proximal [near] to the spill but not in direct contact, reacts in several ways:

• First, the bacteria separate themselves far enough away so as to protect themselves from the toxicity of the spill.

• Second, the bacteria then releases enzymes and biosurfactants to attack the
spill.

• Third, the biosurfactants emulsify and solubilize the spill.

What this means is the biosurfactants will break up and partition the spill into a manageable consistency. In other words, it is breaking down the molecular structure of the spill or detoxifying it, so it can be used as a food source.

The enzymes then form binding sites on the emulsified or solubilize spill and
this is where the bacteria will initially attach themselves and start the digestive process.

There have to be large amounts of bacteria for this process to take effect, and, if left solely to nature, it is a long process for bacteria to acclimate themselves to a spill. It then takes further time for the bacteria to release enzymes and surfactants.

One of the limiting factors is the number of bacteria present to produce and release enough enzymes and surfactants to get the process started.

This is why you hear scientists talk about adding nutrients to jumpstart the rapid growth of bacteria so enough enzymes and biosurfactants can be released to affect the mitigation of the spill.

However, nutrients alone have limited uses because of concentration requirements which are compromised in various environments--washed away or diluted by wave motion—and that, compounded with the time it takes to grow a large population of bacteria, reduces their effectiveness.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were a means of emulating Mother Nature while at
the same time, speeding up the process to mitigate in hours, days or weeks what Mother
Nature takes months and/or years to handle on her own?

There is such a solution: OIL SPILL EATER II

OIL SPILL EATER II (OSE II) contains exact proportions of enzymes, bio surfactants, nutrients and other necessary constituents for complete life cycles and biodegradation.

When OSE II is added to a spill, it is not necessary to wait on the proximal bacteria to release enough enzymes or bio surfactants since they are already supplied by OSE II. Therefore, the minute you apply OSE II, there is sufficient biosurfactants to start the emulsification and solubilization process. This process generally takes just a minute or two, or possibly several more minutes depending on the consistency of the spill. As the bio surfactants do their job, the enzymes are attaching themselves to broken down hydrocarbon structures, forming digestive binding sites.

Note: Once this process has occurred, several important changes take effect:

1. The fire hazard has diminished.
2. The toxicity of the spill is rapidly diminished.
3. The odor or smell is almost non-existent.
4. The oil or spill will no longer adhere to anything.
5. The spill is caused to float, OSE II will prevent the oil from sinking.

If the spill has not reached a shoreline yet, but does so after application, it will not adhere to wildlife, sand, rock, wood, metal, or any vegetation.

If the spill has already attached itself, once application occurs, the spill will be
lifted from sand, rock, wood, metal or vegetation and wildlife. OSE II is the perfect solution for cleaning up oiled wildlife and marine life because it works so swiftly and is non-toxic, causing the oil to just easily slough off once sprayed on. This causes less trauma for the animal being cleaned and a much faster and easier cleanup process.

The spill is detoxified to the point that indigenous bacteria (natural to a given environmental location) can now utilize the oil as a food source. This also diminishes toxicity to marine organisms, birds or wildlife.

OSE II causes the oil to float on the surface of the water, which reduces the impact to the sub-surface preventing secondary contamination of the water column or tertiary contamination on the floor of the body of water associated with the spill area. The spill being held on the surface will make it easy to monitor.

OSE II also has an extremely efficient nutrient system which is activated once you mix
the product with natural water--water native to the spill environment.

While the spill is being broken down and detoxified, the indigenous bacteria already living in the natural water used to mix OSE II starts rapidly colonizing or proliferating the growth of large numbers of indigenous bacteria.

Once the bacteria run out of the OSE II’s readily available nutrients, they convert over to the only food source left: the detoxified oil spill. The spill is then digested to CO2 and water. In some cases you can see bacteria growing on the spill; however, in a short period of time, the oil will be digested to CO2 and water before your eyes on a contained spill. In laboratory tests, once you see the water in the test beaker or aquarium become turbid, you know it is only a matter of time before the contaminant is remediated to CO2 and water.

Unlike mechanical cleanup, which cleans up a maximum of 20% of the oil spilled, OSE II will actually address 100% of a spill. This information is substantiated by the EPA’s listing of OSE II on the National Contingency Plan for oil spills referred to as the NCP list, which contains the efficacy test performed for the EPA at LSU University. This documentation can be examined at: http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/ncp/products/oseater.htm.

Ayo 17 November 2011 - 4:47pm / Holland

It's quite complex.

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