Oil Spillage in Nigeria: Clean up and Remediation Methods
The rate of oil spillage in Nigeria is alarming and frankly detrimental to the affected communities and the country altogether. Although many cases of oil spillage in Nigeria are caused by fraudulent activities, the operational processes of oil and gas companies play a huge role. The inadequate measures taken to dispose of toxic waste, as well as, some leakages are also factors to consider.
The pollution of water as a result of oil spillage isn’t only detrimental to the aquatic life present, but also surface & underground water resources. As more fresh water sources become polluted, the access to clean and suitable drinking water is also affected. What’s even more astonishing is the fact that research shows that it is difficult & costly to eliminate the pollutants from contaminated water. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), about 80% of global waste water are usually left untreated. Hence, making cases of water pollution even more permanent.
Top Methods For Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Cleaning up oil spills is an essential process required to help communities recover from the loss of income, food, and water sources. While there are a few methods oil and gas companies can adopt, there are factors to consider. The method for cleaning up oil spills is usually dependent on;
- The location of the oil spill
- The type of oil spill
- The severity/amount of the spill
Based on these factors, oil and gas companies can clean up oil spills by adopting one of the following measures;
This is one of the natural ways to clean up oil spills in an area. Bioremediation is the process of organisms breaking down different contaminants. This process usually takes place immediately after every oil spill, however, if the spill is too severe, it needs to be cleaned manually first. To improve the rate of decontamination using this process, nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen are added.
Booms are tools used to contain the spread of oil spills by keeping them in a specific location. They are usually made of plastic with a cylindrical float on top and weighted bottom. This tool floats on the surface and has a wide bottom shaped like a skirt to contain the spills. It is very effective for light/minor oil spills.
Skimmers are boats designed specifically to skim oil from the surface of water. These boats come with a settling tank where the oil and water are separated. The water is refined if it is fresh and the oil is burned. This tool is often used in a light oil spill, as it is easier to separate.
Chemical dispersants are used to reduce the quantity of oil in water via absorption. Primarily, oil binds to chemical dispersants, which dilutes the oil to a quantity that is less harmful to humans and other aquatic life forms. Dispersants are easily applied all over the contaminated area by a low flying plane.
Oil spills in areas like the beach or near a shore can be cleaned up using a shovel or vacuum truck. Depending on the quantity of oil, pressurized hoses are also, a great way to get rid of a small oil spill.
Burning is also an effective way to get rid of oil in water, however, this process releases sulphur and nitrogen into the atmosphere. This could lead to acid rain, which is also harmful.
Using one of these methods can keep our water sources safe, which in turn, keeps our communities thriving.