Friday, June 18, 2010

How would you like 50 years of oil spills?

In the "you think you've got it bad category" we turn to the Niger Delta. While the Gulf of Mexico oil spill dominates the news headlines, the Niger Delta has seen far worse. The oil spills that have dumped millions of gallons oil into the delta's wetlands have rendered much of it dead. What has spilled into the Gulf is only a fraction of what is dumped into the Niger Delta wetlands over the last 50 years.

There are several causes for the continuous oil dumplings in Nigeria. Sabotage from the local militant opposition, aging and poorly maintained pipes cause another fraction of the spills, also an ineffective oversight from the government.

From this Associated Press article that we found at the Sarasota Herald Tribune, writer Adam Nossiter gives us this unique perspective.

Perhaps no place on Earth has been as battered by oil, experts say, leaving residents here astonished at the nonstop attention paid to the gusher half a world away in the Gulf of Mexico. It was only a few weeks ago, they say, that a burst pipe belonging to Royal Dutch Shell in the mangroves was finally shut after flowing for two months: Now nothing living moves in a black-and-brown world once teeming with shrimp and crab.

Not far away, there is still black crude on Gio Creek from an April spill, and just across the state line in Akwa Ibom the fishermen curse their oil-blackened nets, doubly useless in a barren sea buffeted by a spill from an offshore Exxon Mobil pipe in May that lasted for weeks.

The oil spews from rusted and aging pipes, unchecked by what analysts say is ineffectual or collusive regulation, and abetted by deficient maintenance and sabotage. In the face of this black tide is an infrequent protest -- soldiers guarding an Exxon Mobil facility beat women who were demonstrating last month, according to witnesses -- but mostly resentful resignation.

Small children swim in the polluted estuary here, fishermen take their skiffs out ever farther -- "There's nothing we can catch here," said Pius Doron, perched anxiously over his boat -- and market women trudge through oily streams.

"There is Shell oil on my body," said Hannah Baage, emerging from Gio Creek with a machete she used to cut the cassava stalks balanced on her head.

No comments: