From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM, More from this Affiliate
Published August 8, 2011 07:20 AM

Oil horror in Nigeria: 30 years, one billion dollars to clean-up

Fifty years of oil spills in Nigeria's now infamous Ogoniland region will take up to three decades and over a billion dollars ($1 billion for just the first five years) to restore environments to healthy conditions, according to a new independent report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The most thorough study to date has found that widespread pollution has hit the Niger Delta even harder than assumed with devastating impacts on fishing grounds and community health. Last week Shell, one of the biggest operators in Nigeria, admitted to two massive oil spills in 2008 totaling 11 million gallons of crude.


"The environmental restoration of Ogoniland could prove to be the world's most wide-ranging and long term oil clean-up exercise ever undertaken," the UNEP report reads.

The UNEP's field report, which lasted 14 months, surveyed 200 locations, and analyzed 4,000 soil and water samples, was paid for by Shell after the Nigerian government called for an independent investigation. The investigation found at least 10 communities that were immediately at risk from drinking water polluted with hydrocarbons. Even in areas where the ground surface appeared healthy, the assessment found severe contamination below ground, sometimes going deeper than five meters. Many mangroves forests in the region, which local fishermen depend on since they serve as fish nurseries, are covered in bitumen (tar-like petroleum) a centimeter thick. The constant stream of pollution has pushed fish populations outward and devastated some aquaculture.

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