A comprehensive cleaning up of oil spills in Nigeria ‘s Ogoniland with disastrous consequences to the environment, may take up to 30 years, according to the United Nations Environmental Program report released Thursday.
“The environmental restoration of Ogoniland could prove to be the world’s most wide-ranging and long term oil clean-up exercise ever undertaken if contaminated drinking water, land, creeks and important ecosystems such as mangroves are to be brought back to full, productive health,” the UNEP report stated.
“While some on-the-ground results could be immediate, overall the report estimates that countering and cleaning up the pollution and catalyzing a sustainable recovery of Ogoniland could take 25 to 30 years,” the UNEP said.
“The impact of oil on mangrove vegetation has been disastrous,” the reported stated.
“The oil industry has been a key sector of the Nigerian economy for over 50 years, but many Nigerians have paid a high price, as this assessment underlines,” he said.
The UNEP stated that its study discovered in at least 10 Ogoni communities where drinking water was contaminated with high levels of hydrocarbons, threatening public health.
It hoped its findings could break decades of deadlock in Nigeria ’s main oil producing region, as well as provide the foundation for a sustainable development issues facing people in Ogoniland.
Unrest in the Niger Delta, which prevents Nigeria from pumping crude oil to its 3.2 million b/d capacity over the years, have largely been linked to communities aggrieved by severe pollution of their environment including farmlands and fishing waters.
Royal Dutch Shell, the major operator in Ogoniland before series of community clashes in the early 1990s, forced the company to abandon its facilities in the area, said it welcomed the UNEP report.
“We welcome the submission of the UNEP report to the Nigerian government. We will study it carefully and comment further once we have done so,” a Shell spokeswoman told Platts in Lagos .
Shell had been having a running battle with communities in Ogoniland, who have vowed never to allow the oil firm return back to its oil wells in the area.
Shell on Wednesday admitted to being liable to two major oil spills in Niger Delta’s Bodo community in 2008, and agreed to pay compensation, following a class suit filed against the oil company at a London court.