BARUWA…Where Residents Drink Water With High Petroleum Content.* Niger Delta Communities Affected Too
The Baale, Head of Baruwa village and the reporter drawing water from one of the wells for sampling
Many Nigerians are drinking water with high and dangerous levels of hydrocarbons due to the problem of petroleum sipping into groundwater. Ageing pipelines and tanks used by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), investigations have revealed are the major cause of the massive pollution, resulting in ailments and shorter life spans for the millions of the citizens.
In the Niger Delta where oil prospecting and production takes place, it was found that the people drink a poisonous cocktail of water and crude oil.
In parts of Warri, Delta State, Ogoni in Rivers State, the water is heavily polluted. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) carried out studies that confirmed the contamination of groundwater in Ogoni area as well as the soil. The UNEP recommended the need to clean up the region and the federal government had noted that the clean-up of contaminated soil will take decades. Even in Kaduna leaking pipelines have contaminated the groundwater
This reporter had commissioned extensive, private, scientific and technical investigations to determine the contaminants in the drinking water of a community where petroleum products is believed to be getting into several wells and boreholes – the sources of drinking water for millions of people in Lagos.
This study showed that people in other areas outside the Niger Delta particularly in Lagos where there are ageing tanks and pipelines are vulnerable to impact of massive oil contaminants in their ground water and subsequently their drinking cups.
While oil has accounted for over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings over the years, local consumption in Lagos accounts for about 60 percent of total gasoline consumption in the country.
Investigations confirmed that many people in areas where oil pipelines and tank cross both within and outside the Niger Delta where oil production takes place are ingesting high and dangerous levels of hydrocarbons.
This reporter personally took water samples in the presence of the community leader from well and borehole in areas where pollution of the drinking water was suspected to have been taking place in Lagos for over 40 years and sent it for scientific analysis in the four-month long investigation.
This type of investigations is usually carried out by universities, research institutes and international agencies. It is, however, rare in Sub Saharan Africa. It was to determine water quality as well as level of contamination.
Results of previous studies in Lagos which were never made known to the public are usually abandoned in government archives. As such people have been unaware of the degree of pollution and the kinds of pollutants they are ingesting.
A previous study on water contamination carried out by Lagos State Water Corporation only showed there were high levels of iron the drinking water samples taken from Baruwa Village, a community in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos.
The recent investigations, however, went beyond these to show that people have been sipping water that is awful in areas where contaminants from oil facilities have polluted the underground water in a country where pipe borne water is very scarce. There are pollutants more dangerous than iron in the sources of drinking water of Baruwa people.
Jawura Environmental Services Ltd, an accredited consultant to Federal Ministry of Environment, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) carried out the scientific analysis of the water quality.
This reporter submitted water samples from affected area. In the result of the extensive study and analysis entitled; Possible Water Contamination with Petroleum Products at Baruwa Village, Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State, the experts noted that because there are so many different chemicals in crude oil and other petroleum products, its not practical to measure each one separately. They added that, it is however useful to measure the Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) at a site.
“Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) is a mixture of hydrocarbon chemicals, but they are all made mainly from hydrogen and carbon hence they are called hydrocarbons. Some hydrocarbon chemicals that may be found in Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) are hexane, jet fuels, mineral oils, nephalene, fluorine as well as other petroleum products and gasoline components,” said the report.
Previous studies done by some government agencies simply indicated that there was too much iron in the wells and boreholes in the area.
Investigations and scientific analysis of the well and borehole in Baruwa showed high concentration of petroleum and contamination of the community’s aquifer. The study looked into 17 different components of the poly aromatic hydrocarbon of water samples. The components are Acenaphthene, Acenaphthylene, Anthracene, Benz (a) anthracene, Benz (a) pyrene, Benzo (g,h,i) perylene, Benzo (k), fluoranthene, Chrysene, Dibenz (a,h) anthracene, Fluoranthene, Indeno (1,2,3,- cd) phyrene, 2- Methylnaphthealene, Naphthalene, Phenanthrene and Pyrene.
Experts who saw the detailed and meticulous study noted that the kind of study was similar to the ones done as research by students at doctoral level in the university and will serve as a baseline and reference material for further research by universities, research institutes, government institutions and development partners.
Theinvestigations revealed that apart from corroded oil pipelines, one of the reasons why oil had seeped into ground water so easily was through rapid urbanization and disrespect for nature and existing landscape in the Lagos area.
The contamination of wells in Baruwa and Ilado areas started with few wells in 1996. Gradually, virtually all the wells now carried traces of petroleum. In a study carried out by the Lagos State Water Corporation, some years ago, the organization said it carried out “microbiological examination” and that the water from wells in the area was “unsatisfactory” and unsafe for consumption purpose. The corporation said it performed its tests “using standard methods for water and waste water(1971) and some rapid detention methods).
The examination indicated that the water has high acid levels, was colorless, odourless, and tasteless. One of the studies with Reference Number QA/N/REG/IJU/11/18 indicated that there was high iron concentration in the water sampled in Baruwa and it recommended to government that the iron should be removed. The people thus underestimated the extent of danger and threat posed by drinking from the water. They told this reporter they had been drinking the water for years.
The Pipelines Product and Marketing Company (PPMC), an agency under the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and officials from NNPC visited the community about the same time. They also took samples of the polluted wells for analysis. But the results of the analysis were never made public. According to Baruwa Central Community Development Association, the NNPC officials gradually withdrew their attention to the plight of the people. Before withdrawing from the community, the NNPC had sunk three boreholes with its name and logo inscribed on the tanks. A big electricity generator was installed to power the water pumping machine. The water from the borehole did not drop for once through the years. Meanwhile, the graves of some people who died in the community could be seen very near the borehole constructed by NNPC. These were the interred grounds of ancestors of those who are now vulnerable to drinking from oil polluted wells.
The Baruwa community through their lawyer, Mr. A.A Aderogba wrote to the Group Executive Director of Commercial and Investment, NNPC in Abuja to complain about the contamination of the three boreholes which NNPC sank to serve as palliative measures. The lawyer asked asked the corporation to install water treatment plants for the three existing and five proposed boreholes in order to make the water they produce potable. Hydrocarbons permeated the soil and entered many boreholes in communities in the area.
In a letter once sent by Mr. J.O Oyewole, chairman and L.O Ogintola, secretary of Baruwa Central Association to Chief OladipoOlaitan, their Representative at the Federal House of Representatives in Abuja, they claimed that the water from their contaminated wells had given the people “re-occurring and persistent catarrh and irritation of the airways, wateriness and discoloration of the cornea of the eyes skin rashes and dermatitis.
“PPMC/NNPC normal excuses of cannibalization of pipelines as factors for the exposure or seepage are not tenable in our case. Every evidence points in the direction of ruptured pipeline due to lack of adequate maintenance although PPMC have not openly admitted reflecting its responsibility,” said the community.
The situation in the communities have forced Lagos State Governor, Mr. RajiFashola (SAN) to also call the attention members of the House of Reps to do something about the plight of the poor people some of who now depend on purchase of water from vendors from arid countries such as Chad and Niger Republics. Residents purchased water at the rate of N1, 200 per 4,000 litres.
Dr. E.O Samuel, Medical Director of Solad Medical Centre in Baruwa said that hydrocarbon is dangerous to human health.
He said that the contents of the hydrocarbon and the elements found therein are dangerous to human health.
Experts said that if there has been continuous leakage of petroleum products in Baruwa and Ilado areas, exposure of people over a long time could be catastrophic.
The World Bank assisted Lagos State government in a multimillion dollars project to pipe water into Lagos homes in the early 1990s. The effect of that massive project was never felt.
Professor OladeleOsibanjo, Head Linkage Centre, Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes, University of Ibadan who has studied oil pollution in many parts of Nigeria said that he is worried that the “underground aquifer in the (Baruwa) area would be polluted by oil.” He identified this as the reason Nigeria cannot meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on water sanitation by 2015. Nigeria is a signatory to the conventions on water quality. Osibanjo who saw the process of the scientific study initiated by this reporter and analysed the final result said “from the results, the petroleum products contain carcinogenic substances like Benzene, Toluene etc. and exposure to low doses over time can cause cancer in that area,’ and “If you drink water contaminated with oil, it can cause a lot of vomiting. Studies have also shown that oil can affect the skin.”
Osibanjo said there are many diseases that can occur when people are exposed to such water on a long-term. “According to World Health Organization (WHO) standard good water must be colourless, odorless. That water that you analyzed has colour and its odiferous. Petroleum has its own peculiar odour. So, what happens? Even the bore hole that was analysed is contaminated,” said Osibanjo who asked this reporter to inform the people to discontinue the use of such water sources.
Osibanjo said disclosed that the ecological problem in Baruwa area is similar to that of Niger Delta. He added that in the Niger Delta, the whole place is swamp and they don’t have access to surface water. “Our government is not supplying them water. PPMC and NNPC are indifferent. I think citizens need to be compensated. They need to demand their right,” he said.
Professor Hilary Inyang, Duke Energy Professor, University of Charlotte, North Carolina remarked that “oil spillages constitute a major environmental problem in Niger Delta and other parts of Nigeria where the community hosts oil pipelines and tanks.
Inyang said that there are more than 1,500 communities in the Niger Delta hosting oil and gas facilitates with more than 5,500 oil wells, 260 flow stations and 7,000km of pipelines in the region.
The professor who was Director, Global Institute for Energy and Environment Systems (GIEES) at University of North Carolina, Charlotte, USA regretted that that the vulnerable areas surround the oil and gas facilities in Nigeria have pipelines and tanks that have been in operation for more than 30 years and frequently succumb to corrosion and other geo-environmental stresses.
According to him, about 50 years of oil operations in the Niger Delta have generated 3,920 spills of which about 3,150 sites are at flow stations, drilling sites and pits for mud and flaresadding that an estimated 13 million barrels of oil has been spilled into the Niger Delta during five decades by operators in the oil industry.
“Just in the 2006 – 2009 periods alone, there were 2,122 oil spill incidents that oil companies recorded in Nigeria. Corrosion of vessels and pipelines, equipment failure and operational maintenance errors accounted for 653 spills while sabotage largely accounted for the rest.
“In January, 1980, an off-shore well below out near Koluama, Bayelsa State spilled more than 4,700 barrels of oil into the mangrove,” said Inyang.
He recalled that on January 11, 1998, more than 40,000 barrels of crude oil poured into coastal waters due to a ruptured offshore pipeline noting that about 222 Bayelsa communities comprising about 500,000 people, were affected by damages to drinking water, fishing grounds and farms.
Inyang noted that on March 27, 1998, a pipeline failure at the Jones Creek Flow station in Delta State spilled 20,000 barrels of oil into local water resources, killing a large number of fish adding that on August 2, 2010, a spill from oil facilities on the Bonny River stretched from Okirika, Opobo channel to Finima in River State, close to the Atlantic Ocean, destroying sensitive fauna and flora.
There were many other spills. Between March to May 2010, oil spill at the Qua Iboe oil field in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State, released more than 5,520 barrels of oil onto the creeks. The spill polluted fishing waters, groundwater, surface water and sediments at high concentrations.
Mr. Celestine AkpoBari, National Coordinator, Ogoni Solidarity Forum in the Niger Delta said that several wells in Ogoniland where executed environmental rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa hailed from have been contaminated over the years and the people have no access to potable drinking water.
According to AkpoBari, the Ogoni people have also been deprived their means of livelihood because the rivers and water they depend upon for fishing had been polluted adding that many poor people have no choice than to drink from all polluted sources. He noted that the situation of the people of Ogoni where oil was produced for several decades was worse off than areas where corroded and leaking oil pipelines and tanks have led to contamination of ground water.
It will be recalled Niger Delta Environmental Survey of 1998, found total hydrocarbon concentration, ranging from 600 to 18,000 micrograms per gram of surface and subsurface soils in Owaza, 30-13,000 micrograms per gram in Izombe, up to 26,000 micrograms per gram in K-Dere, and 3-200 micrograms per gram at Ibeno-Mkpanak.
‘We need N450mil “Baruwa is a case of Ecological Disaster,” Professor Osibanjo
Professor OladeleOsibanjo, Head, Basel Convention on Trans Boundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes Linkage Centre, University of Ibadan, Member of Advisory Board of International Centre for Environmental Technology, Japan and first Chair of Global Wastes Platform Dialogue had carried out series of studies on at pollution in the Niger Delta as well as Western and Northern parts of Nigeria. While on his way to attend ICET meeting in Japan last week, Osibanjo spoke to TundeAkingbade on the contamination of the source of water in Baruwa and the scientific analysis.
Q: What is your reaction to the result of the analysis of water samples that we took from Baruwa for analysis in the laboratory?
A: My own worry is that the underground aquifer in the area would be polluted by oil. That’s why in Nigeria, we cannot meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015 on water sanitation. The world is a signatory to Global Water Scarcity and Nigeria is a signatory to the conventions on water quality.
From the results, the petroleum products contain carcinogenic substances like Benzene, Toluene etc. and exposure to low doses over time can cause cancer in that area. If you drink water contaminated with oil, it can cause a lot of vomiting. Studies have also shown that oil can affect the skin. There are many diseases that can occur when people are exposed to such water on a long-term. According to World Health Organization (WHO) standard good water must be colourless, odorless. That water that you analyzed has colour and its odiferous. Petroleum has its own peculiar odour. So, what happens? Even the bore hole that was analysed is contaminated. So, that’s why I said that the water had gone down the aquifer. To recharge the aquifer will be a major capital project. They will have to pump out all the oil and water and allow fresh water to come in. What is being done by those responsible for the contamination is that they are now excluding the population from what God has given them. They can’t access water. Who is bringing water to them? Government’s access to water is paralyzed. Where did you pick the samples in the area?
Q: Actually, the samples I took were from the home of community leaders?
A: Ha! You have to educate them. Low dose exposure over a time can cause chronic health problems. Health officers should look at the health profile in the area. There is need to carry out epidemiological studies in the area to find incidences of diseases emanating from exposure to the oil in water. The danger again is that children and the aged are the vulnerable groups. Adults will give that water to children. A woman who is also breast feeding will pass the danger to the baby. Those people, due to no fault of theirs have been excluded. May be the test you initiated can prick the conscience of the Federal and State governments. These people in the area due to no fault of theirs have been excluded from access to drinking water and they have no alternative. The well is contaminated. Even the bore hole is contaminated. The government may even need to relocate them. I think the most important thing is to raise awareness amongst the people. That’s why the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has to do integrity test over all its pipelines. They have not been maintaining them and they are obsolete. They have not been maintaining them. So, without any sabotage, the pipes are leaking. Some of the soils also have corrosive properties. The media has to also create awareness. The leakage has been there over the years. People in the area are harvesting oil without going to an oil field. It’s a mirage.
Q: Professor, if you look at the issue from this angle, the people are not in oil rich Niger Delta or Ogoni and they are facing this big problem. What do you think? Can we compare the two vulnerable groups?
A: They are similar. In the Niger Delta, the whole place is swamp and they don’t have access to surface water. Our government is not supplying them water. PPMC and NNPC are indifferent. I think citizens need to be compensated. They need to demand their right. You know the Niger Delta chiefs have gone to the United Kingdom to get a judgment against Shell Petroleum company because in developed countries, America for example, have a law that says any company that operates something that is below their standard outside the country is liable to be tried under America law.
Q: I found in the course of my investigations that the borehole that NNPC sank for community use was also found to be contaminated by what was claimed to the community to be iron and it was not used for one day?
A: Can you imagine! I told you that aquifer has been spoilt.
Q: I saw some graves in the area?
A: Can you imagine! I am actually on my way to Japan to attend a meeting on wastes.
Petroleum products causing problems in the area are wastes because the products have escaped from the pipes. They are wastes. They will be there forever in the underground except they are pumped out and replaced with fresh water. The problem is that our leaders don’t care. Look at what President Barack Obama recently did during the disaster caused by Hurricane Sandy. He left his campaign. A leader must have human feelings. Obama forgot the campaigns and he was with the people who suffered from the effects of the hurricane. One should have a human face. Our leaders don’t have a human face. That’s what’s upsetting in this part of the world. I am just wondering what the Federal and Lagos State governments are doing for the people. The other negative thing is that the people have consigned to accepting it as the norm thinking; what can we do? And we have a government. Are the Baruwa people not Nigerians? Are they not Lagosians? Government must be responsive to the plight of the people. The environment is a premium. It’s not negotiable. When you consider the environmental implication and the cost of inaction by PPMC and NNPC it is not measurable. You cannot cost death of one person and then the cost of inaction. What are the facts behind the figures? How many people have died? We don’t know. You said you have seen graves in the area. That’s what I am saying. The cost of inaction by NNPC, Federal Government and Lagos State Government over these years is unquantifiable in Naira and Dollars. How many people have been caught shot? It’s sad! How many have gone sick in the poor population in the 21st Century? President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria was at UN Rio+ 20 conference in Brazil this year affirming sustainable development, affirming support for all the agenda. Now we are talking about green environment, clean technology. This is the environment where you have more productivity and less waste. What is happening in the area and many parts of the country runs counter to Rio+ 20.
Q: Nigeria knows how to affirm international documents and agreements?
A: The president was there. I was there.
Q: I know he was in Brazil.
A: He was there and he supported all the principles including Polluter Pays Principle, Right to a Clean Environment, MDGS etc. This insensitivity is not good for Federal, State and Local Governments. NNPC and its subsidiary PPMC should pay for it. The government should not abandon its citizens. This problem is more than 10 years. The people of Baruwa have the right to live. The government should come to their aid. They should declare that place a disaster area. This is a call for wake-up. This is solution time and not time for rhetoric’s. The problem has now been proven scientifically. Even a blind man can see it. The cost of treating water in the area will not even make any bottling company to be cited there. They will run away.
lion to address the problem of ageing Pipelines,” Pepple
Mr. Fidel Pepple, Acting Group General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC spoke to TundeAkingbade at the Headquarters of NNPC in Abuja on the issues surrounding oil pollution in the areas where NNPC has facilities was situated. Excerpts;
Q: There are concerns about ageing NNPC tanks and pipelines in places like Ilado, Baruwa in Lagos and parts of the Niger Delta. What’s the position of NNPC and water contamination?
A: There is no doubt that some of these NNPC facilities like pipelines have been there for a long time some in excess of 30years and the NNPC thus recognize that there is a need to begin to address some of these ageing facilities like pipelines. It has to be done holistically and if has to be phased because it will be impossible to shut down the whole network because it will take some time to really address the quantum of the whole network of pipelines in the country. But the process has been started, only yesterday, the Group Managing Director (GMD) sent our coordinator corporate planning and strategy to address the Energy Correspondents Association Conference and he did say that it will cost N450million to address these problems of ageing pipelines. So it’s going to be done on how to phase it and how to address. So we do recognize that something has to be done and that there is need to address it.
Q: When you look at the issue of urban planning in this country, you had cases where land speculators and builders advanced towards NNPC facilities and pipelines. But in some cases, like in Baruwa or Niger Delta, some communities have been there and it was NNPC that put facilities near existing communities. How will you address the issue and the fact that Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)?
A: That is true. Because before any facilities or pipelines are laid in this industry, proper EIA are done and studies are done. There are procedures on how the EIA is done etc. and all those studies are passed through the necessary authorities. Unfortunately in most of these urban areas, when those pipelines were laid, they were not as densely populated as they are today and the rights of ways were clearly demarcated and marked. There were warning sires put on them indicating pipeline.
Q: Or gas?
A: Unfortunately, people continued to build and in spite of our efforts to try and stop the process, The NNPC cannot do it alone because its something that takes the cooperation of all various organs of government including the state government in these areas to address those issues, we have run campaign for years about the dangers of building on our right of way or around it. The danger is not only building on our right of way, but that there are mandatory setbacks between our right of ways or commercial buildings around it. But unfortunately, this was not done. We have pipelines run into thousands of kilometers across the country. And we do our best to police them regularly. But this question of encroachment is something that takes the cooperation of all organs of government; state government and NNPC. Unfortunately in urban areas, it has not been possible to completely eliminate encroachment.
Q: What do you think?
A: I know that all NNPC projects, even before 1992, all our refineries were built before 1992. EIA were done for all of them the laws have always been there. It’s the situation in the all industry if you are going to do any project. If you are going to do any project, you are required to do this. In these days, it has also gone beyond EIA to do Environmental Social and Health and Social Impact Assessments when projects are being done these days.
Baruwa from Genesis to Pollution
It began in 1854. That was the year when Baruwa was founded by Ibrahim Adeniji who was later to become Baruwa, meaning “Leader of the Community.” Baruwa as the man was popularly called was synonymous to the village near Agege in Alimosho Local Government area of Lagos. The population of the Local Government is …….and it is a fertile ground for politicians to canvass for votes during elections. The man Baruwa was one of those who returned from Brazil to settle in Lagos after the abolition of slave trade. He used to be a merchant who traded in padlocks and he shuttled from Lagos to Ipaja in Agege area of Lagos to trade his wares. Baruwa came to Lagos from Brasilia with a man called Da Rocha who was reputed to be the richest man in Lagos in those years. Baruwa was also a friend of Herbert Macaulay, one of the founding fathers of Nigeria who fought for the country’s independence. Herbert Macaulay, a professional surveyor did the survey and conveyance of Baruwa village for his friend in 1909.
The current Head of the village Alhaji Baruwa is the last child of the 18 children which the founder of Baruwa village sired. The village had been existence before NNPC’s pipelines crossed its landscape in 1970s and changed the contents of its water bodies.
How the Baruwa Study was conducted
The scientists who conducted the study on water collected by this reporter said that the samples were immediately preserved below 4 degrees Centigrade prior to analysis.
Glassware’s used for the analysis of sample were scrupulously cleaned by soaking in chromic acid over-night, washed with detergent, then copiously rinsed with running tap water followed by distilled water, and then acetone. The glass wares were transferred into the oven for 2 hours at 105 degrees Centigrade to dry. 100ml of sample was taken into Pyrex glass separating funnel and 50 ml of Dichloromethane (DCM) solvent was poured into it. The experts carried out several activities using equipment such as Rotary Evaporator, Gas Chromatograph (GC), and Flame Ionization Detector (FID) Model 5890. After more rigorous processes, the results came out to confirm concentrations of individual hydrocarbons and Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon concentration of the water samples.
Sample A- Well Water: During the chemical analysis, the experts found “similar peaks as displayed on peaks for premium motor spirits (PMS) carried out under similar conditions. The pH value was 6.79. The petroleum hydrocarbon peaks from premium motor spirits (PMS) were more distinct compared to the shown in the chromatographs.
The concentration of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) in the well water was 312.9 u g/I.
Sample B- Borehole Water; The experts noted that when this reporter brought the water for analysis it was colourless and clear with a pH value of 8.75. It had no characteristic odour. When it was analyzed, the experts found peaks similar to peaks displayed by the premium motor spirits (PMS) sample analyzed under the same conditions indicating traces of the premium motor spirits PMS contamination. The scientists took sample of diesel and kerosene bought from official NNPC outlets to confirm through chromatograms the exact hydrocarbon contamination and Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). This was why the contamination was linked with NNPC and PPMC through minor spills from ruptured pipelines in the area. They found that the concentration of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) in the borehole water sample was 163.0 u g/I. The study concluded that sample A which is the well water with faint Brown colour is more contaminated with petroleum as compared with the borehole sample (B) which had traces of petroleum contamination they noted that it is not hygienic for human to drink petroleum product contaminated groundwater as some of the petroleum hydrocarbon fractions especially the aromatic fractions contain Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) which could be carcinogenic and harmful to humans on long term ingestion.