Hydrocarbon pollution in the Niger Delta: Geographies of impacts and appraisal of lapses in extant legal framework
Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, United Kingdom; Nigerian Law School, Augustine Nnamani Campus, Agbani, Enugu, Nigeria; Nri-Ezedi's Chambers, Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria
The Niger Delta is home to the third largest mangrove forest in the world, endowed with extensive freshwater swamp and tropical rain forests, which are rich in unique biological diversity. However, the region has experienced a wide range of environmental pollution and degradation as a result of decadal extraction of its huge hydrocarbon reserves. Despite the financial benefits accruing from hydrocarbon export, it has raised serious environmental concerns in the region. The pollution has heavily impacted on the ecosystem and health of the inhabitants. Prominent among the hydrocarbon-induced pollution include oil spill, gas flaring, and pipeline explosions. Over 10,000 oil spill and pipeline explosion incidents have been recorded and more than 350 billion cubic metres of gas have been flared in the region in the last 14 years. These have caused huge human and material losses in addition to environmental degradation and poor air quality. The region's ecosystem has therefore been declared one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. This paper reviewed past and current research on the impact of pollutions from oil and gas exploitation activities, alongside the history of hydrocarbon exploration in the region. It importantly outlined the geographies of the pollution, showing their magnitude and spatial spread to demonstrate how they may have impacted on the wellbeing of the inhabitants of the region. In addition, the paper reviewed lapses in the country's legal framework that has encouraged such practices harmful to the environment. It critically analysed the failure of the relevant legal framework in imposing responsible attitudes and behaviours on the oil and gas companies towards the environment. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
Air quality; Ecology; Ecosystems; Environmental regulations; Forestry; Gas industry; Gases; Hydrocarbons; Oil shale; Oil spills; Petroleum prospecting; Pipelines; Public utilities; Endangered ecosystems; Environmental concerns; Environmental pollutions; Hydrocarbon exploration; Hydrocarbon pollution; Niger Delta; Oil and gas; Oil and gas companies; Pollution; environmental degradation; environmental impact; hydrocarbon exploration; legislation; pollution effect; Forests; Hydrocarbons; Mangrove; Pollution; Niger Delta; Nigeria