June 19, 2024

HYPREP set to cleanup high-risk sites in Ogoniland


Adewale Akintaro

The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, has begun initiative to cleanup Nsisioken, one of the most polluted sites in Ogoniland, as part of its resolve to restore and remediate Ogoni communities impacted by crude oil.

Nsisioken community in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, is the site where UNEP warned of high concentration of benzene in the ground water, 900 times above WHO standards, thus contaminated both in the soil and in ground water.

Speaking during an inspection of the site with a German environmental remediation firm, Sensatec GMBH, HYPREP Project Coordinator, Prof. Nenibarini Zabbey, said currently on record, HYPREP has 15 high risk complex sites with few requiring recategorization.

Zabbey further explained that environmental conditions were dynamic, hence the site characterization of high risk complex sites would ascertain the current picture of the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of each site.

He said, “Nsisioken in Eleme is one of the high-risk complex sites that HYPREP is making plan to clean. If you look at the UNEP report, Nsisioken is one of the sites that UNEP reported high concentration of benzene 900 times above permissible limit, and so the contamination is both in the soil and in ground water.

“As you can see this is a residential area where the contamination is under people’s houses, it’s under community artefacts, shrine, churches and school, so dealing with this kind of site requires high level of safety precaution.

“We are here today with members of Sensatec from Germany. They are here to do a recognizance survey to this site. They will also go to other high-risk sites to get first hand feel of the situation we are dealing it. It will enable them to go back and develop a robust proposal for site characterization of a high-risk complex site.

“In terms of the contamination, it will give us workable data on the vertical and horizontal spread of the contamination. It will also give us foundational data that will enable the clean up process to be fit for purpose. For example the site characterization will help us to understand the hydraulic conductivity, the flow dynamics and the level of contamination as well as the spread, so with all that we will be able to do proper scoping.

“When spill occurs, it could be surface or subsurface; but no matter the source, the oil will percolate, and continue to drip down until it gets to the water table. And because of density differential the oil will sit on the ground water, while the soluble component will dissolve in the water but then the component that cannot dissolve will continue to sit, so groundwater is contaminated.

On his own, the Head of Africa Operations, Sensatec GMBH, Harry Ylikangas, said:

“We have a good experience also in working in a built environment say in between communities even in the middle of big cities. We are here by the invitation of HYPREP and we are really grateful to them for this opportunity and we really hope that we can live up to their expectation and help clean up this challenge and make sure the ground is truly safe for the community and environment.

“We will definitely look forward to working with the local people and local team members and definitely it doesn’t make any sense for us to bring all the people from Germany, we really look forward to good cooperation with the Ogoni people and HYPREP.”

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