Experts raise alarm over alleged contamination of Lagos groundwater

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A team of researchers and experts from the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA, University of Osun and Afe Babalola University has successfully devised a system of cleaning underground water contaminated by petroleum hydrocarbon caused by seepage from oil pipeline.

Unveiling the method whose pilot project was undertaken to clean water wells contaminated by oil spillage from pipelines of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC in Baruwa Community, Lagos at the Lagos Sheraton hotel during a one day workshop held on Tuesday March 27, 2018, the leader of the team of Experts Samuel Ola, a professor of geotechnical and geo environmental Engineering at FUTA said the four year research was undertaken under the aegis of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND with the principal aim of remediating ground water polluted by oil spillage using 21st century technology .

Prof. S. A Ola, of FUTA
Prof. S. A Ola, of FUTA

At the occasion chaired by Professor Olufemi Bamiro, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, representatives of the Baruwa Community, officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, NNPC, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, LASEPA and other stakeholders, Ola said his team determined that Groundwater contamination by petroleum hydrocarbon will continue to assail the country until the sources of the contamination are tackled.

Professor Ola said at the commencement of the study, hydrocarbon product was found on top of the groundwater in wells in the community isolated for the research. He said through a combination of modern technology and oil grabber skimmer model, the remediation Process by the team of experts was largely successful as it led to the extraction of petroleum hydrocarbon from the groundwater of wells used for the study.

According to him, “In-site chemical oxidation was also used and after about 30 weeks of monitoring there were dramatic reduction in the hydrocarbon content of the groundwater with some of the pilot wells recording zero contamination”. He said the decontamination could not be sustained because the source of the contamination of the ground water in the community which is the oil spills from ruptured NNPC pipelines remained unfixed.

According to the experts, “Groundwater pollution from leaking NNPC/PPMC underground pipelines in Baruwa community has been continuous and the leakage source persistent as evidenced by fresh petroleum product detection in the groundwater at some of the observation wells after the successful clean-up of the pilot scheme area by experts using modern remediation methods”.

They also alerted the authorities that Groundwater pollution problem discovered in Baruwa is already extending to other areas of Lagos such as Diamond Estate, Isheri Road and Gowon Estate.

Speaking at the occasion, a member of the Baruwa community, Professor Joseph Ogungbamigbe said the contamination which is still ongoing has brought untold hardship in spite of several promises by NNPC to remedy the situation. He said the Corporation has done little to tackle the problem and fuel continue to leak into the groundwater from 1996 till date making life unbearable for the people and killing businesses in some instances.

He lauded the Professor Ola’s TETFUND National Research Group for its dogged pursuit of its mandate over four years describing its research and outcome as transparent for everyone to see. He counselled that the work of remediation of polluted ground water in the Community should be done under the supervision of the FUTA Professor led team. “The entire Baruwa Community is grateful to this research team that laboured tirelessly on the community without any cost from our part” he said.

Dr Musa ZagI, Director Environment of DPR called for the sustenance of such a platform saying sincere engagement between government, national oil corporations, IOC’s and host communities to tackle oil spill and environmental exploration remains the best way out. He said the DPR will continue to bring about a total commitment by all stakeholders to set agenda which will guarantee clean, safe and suitable environment for all.

The Chairman of the occasion, Professor Olufemi Bamiro lauded the approach of the Research team. He said they demonstrated the application of knowledge to solve real life situation and adapted inter -disciplinary approach. He appealed to the Federal Government and other relevant agencies to leverage on the result of the study to solve the problem of Baruwa Community and other areas whose environments continue to bear the brunt of oil exploration and exploitation.

He said the consensus of opinion at the workshop was the urgent need to replace the apparently old and corroded PPMC pipelines to ensure pipeline integrity and stop further leakage; thereafter, the clean-up of the contaminated areas can then be undertaken. As an interim measure, Specialized cased water supply boreholes can be drilled in contaminated areas to provide potable water.

TETFUND which funded the research project said through Mrs. Mary Israel –Cookey who represented Dr Abdulahi Baffa, the Executive Secretary that it would continue to fund research that solve real life problems and advance the course of academic development in the country. He said the Professor Ola TETFUND National Research Group had done creditably well and delivered excellently on its mandate.

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