WAYS OF CONTROLLING ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION, OIL SPILLAGE, AND GAS FLARING
1.1 Background of the Study
Human environment is made up of the following aspects: The physical, social, economic, political and technological. The physical environment consists of air, land and water; the social environment consists of the relationships existing among them; the technological environment consists of experiences and practices required for constant adaptation and survival; while the political environment is defined by the degree of authority exercised by some over others. The environment is said to be polluted when there is substantial alteration in form and function of the components of the physical environment which in turn produces harmful effects on human beings. The key word here is “substantial”, which is used to show that no component of the physical environment can be considered to be polluted until it has been altered in form or function in such a way that it can immediately or potentially harm human being directly or indirectly (Akubugwo et al., 2016).
Environmental pollution is a problem both in developed and developing countries. Factors such as population growth and urbanization invariably place greater demands on the environment and stretch the use of natural resources to the maximum. Such overuse of natural resources often results in nature‟s degradation.
Environmental pollution may cause short term or long term detriment to the earth‟s ecological balance which lowers the quality of life. Pollutants may cause primary damage with direct identifiable impact on the environment or secondary damage in form of minor changes in the delicate balance of the environment that are detectable over a long period. With the increase in waste production, indiscriminate discharge of untreated industrial and domestic wastes into water ways, the spewing of thousands of tones of particulates and airborne gases into the atmosphere, the “throw away” attitude toward solid wastes, and the use of newly developed chemicals without considering the potential consequences have resulted in major environmental disasters which will eventually force governments, groups, organizations and individuals to undertake more effective environmental planning and adopt more effective anti-pollution measures.
Gas flaring is a widely used method to dispose of natural gas in production of petroleum (Omoweh, 1995), It is an anthropogenic activity that is defined as the “wasteful emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that cause global warming, disequilibrium of the earth, unpredictable weather changes and major natural disasters because it emits a cocktail of benzene and other toxic substances that are harmful to humans, animals, plants and the entire physical environment” World Bank, (2007). Necessary infrastructure may be developed to harness natural gas and turn it into a cash Company.
Crude oil spillage and gas flaring are issues in oil producing areas of Nigeria, and they have negatively affected the environment, mostly the pedosphere (Faniran and Areola, 1985). Crude oil spillage could be as a result of accidental discharge of crude oils into the environment through operational mishap, equipment failure, and intentional damage to pipelines conveying the crude oil. In majority of the oil producing communities, large amount of crude oil has been absorbed by agricultural land. Crude oil spillage can cause the reduction of the available nutrients in the soil and adds some toxic elements in the soil, which results to the death of the plants and diminished soil fertility (Aghalino, 2000). Odjugo, (2002) stated that crude oil pollution has deleterious effects on plant growth, soil macronutrients, microorganism and the terrestrial ecosystem in general. As a result of crude oil pollution, soil physical properties such as pore spaces might be clogged thereby reducing soil aeration, infiltration of water into the soil, increased bulk density of the soil which may affect plant growth. Previous studies on crude oil pollution of soil had revealed its adverse effects on soil productivity (Okpowasili and Odokuma, 1990; Aghalino, 2000; Odjugo, 2002). It is not an over statement to say that an ecological war is rapidly destroying human life, flora, and fauna of the area and there is no greater threat on society and development than the continuous degradation of our soil environment through oil spillage and gas flaring.
Human activities and those of oil exploration and exploitation raise a number of issues such as depletion of biodiversity, coastal and riverbank erosion, flooding, oil spillage, gas flaring, noise pollution, sewage and wastewater pollution, land degradation and soil fertility loss and deforestation, which are all major environmental issues. The Niger Delta region has emerged as one of the most ecologically sensitive regions in Nigeria. Oil and gas from the region are the main source of revenue for the Nigerian state, accounting for about 97% of the country’s total export. Since the discovery of oil in the region, oil has dominated the country’s economy. The Niger Delta is highly susceptible to adverse environmental changes, occasioned by climate changes because it is located in the coastal region. Conclusive reports have stated that due to oil exploration and exploitation activities, the area has become an ecological wasteland. It is against this backdrop that this study sought to ascertain possible ways of controlling environmental pollution, oil spillage and gas flaring in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Environmental pollution resulting from crude oil spillage and gas flaring phenomenon have not been studied well in Nigeria. The negative impact of this oil exploration activity includes destruction of wild life, loss of fertile soil, pollution of air and water and damage to the ecosystem of the host communities, thereby disrupting the normal functioning of ecosystem service provision (Aghalino, 2000). Roberts, (1997) reported that ecological problems observed as a result of crude oil spillage and gas flaring includes a brownish vegetation, soil erosion, diminishing resources of the natural ecosystem, soil fertility loss and adverse effect on the live, health and economy of the people. And interestingly, there are no studies dedicated to ways of controlling environmental pollution resulting from oil spillage and gas flaring. However, there is need for continuous research on the problems associated with pollution resulting from crude oil spillage and gas flaring and their effects on the soil environment, and also possible ways through which these problems can be addressed permanently. This study therefore sought to fill this gap.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to explore ways of controlling environmental pollution, oil spillage and gas flaring. Specific objectives include;
i. Toascertain the extent of environmental degradation resulting from the activities of oil exploration in Nigeria.
ii. To identify ways of controlling environmental pollution resulting from oil spillage and gas flaring in Nigeria
1.4 Research Questions
The study sought to answer the following research questions:
i. What is the extent of environmental degradation resulting from the activities of oil exploration Nigeria?
ii. What are the possible ways of controlling environmental pollution resulting from oil spillage and gas flaring in Nigeria?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The findings of the study would provide useful information on the extent of environmental degradation resulting from the activities of oil exploration in Nigeria. The study would also bring to light possible sustainable solutions to the problem of environmental degradation as a result of oil spillage and gas flaring. This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is on exploring possible ways of controlling environmental pollution, oil spillage and gas flaring. The study randomly covered members of the general public of a typical oil rich community. The study will cover a fair balance of male and female respondents in Ilaje and Ese-Odo LGA of Ondo State.
1.7 Limitations of the study
The demanding schedule of respondents at work made it very difficult getting the respondents to participate in the survey. As a result, retrieving copies of questionnaire in timely fashion was very challenging. Also, the researcher is a student and therefore has limited time as well as resources in covering extensive literature available in conducting this research. Information provided by the researcher may not hold true for all businesses or organizations but is restricted to the selected organization used as a study in this research especially in the locality where this study is being conducted. Finally, the researcher is restricted only to the evidence provided by the participants in the research and therefore cannot determine the reliability and accuracy of the information provided.
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Pollution: Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat, or light. Pollutants, the components of pollution, can be either foreign substances/energies or naturally occurring contaminants.
Environmental Degradation: Environmental degradation is a process through which the natural environment is compromised in some way, reducing biological diversity and the general health of the environment. This process can be entirely natural in origin, or it can be accelerated or caused by human activities. Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as quality of air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution.
Oil Spillage: An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially the marine ecosystem, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is usually given to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land.
Gas Flaring: Gas flaring refers to the combustion of associated gas generated during various processes including oil and gas recovery, CBM production, petrochemical process and landfill gas extraction. The typical flare used in the oil and gas industry is composed of a boom or stack which collects the unwanted gases to be flared..