Biannual Progress Report January-June 2022
In 2020, Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) and Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) commenced the Independent Civil Society Monitoring of the Ogoniland Cleanup project with support from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and working in partnership with a range of civil society organisations and activists in the region. Via a network of trained monitors from civil society, we are regularly gathering a range of data to track the progress of a large-scale oil pollution clean-up in Ogoniland, Rivers State, Nigeria, conducted by a project of the Ministry of Environment: the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP). Our project will run from 2020 to the end of 2024.
This is the third biannual monitoring report of the Independent Civil Society Monitoring of the Ogoniland Clean-up project. It presents data collected from January-June 2022 by a network of trained civil society representatives who act as the project monitors.
Key Messages from this report
- The first phase of the clean-up at simple sites is nearing completion. Contractors report they have completed clean-up at 46 out 50 of ‘simple’ sites. Of these, 16 sites have been government-certified as complete – a reduction of 3 from our last report, after lots 3, 20 and 43 were placed back under monitoring. This reduces the number of government-certified sites where we found contaminants above threshold levels from five to two.
- However, we continue to have several quality concerns that have not been addressed, including the potential for secondary contamination at biocells; reduced suitability of clean-up sites for agriculture due to mixing of top- and sub-soil; lack of water quality testing at new water projects; and the need for clarity and transparency over the new risk based approach to setting appropriate contaminant levels.
- In addition, we sent 20 duplicate soil samples to an internationally accredited laboratory. On average, Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon levels were twice that of levels found at the local laboratory we use. While this is not yet enough data to reach firm conclusions, it is possible that our reporting to date has underestimated the level of remaining contamination at clean up sites. We will conduct further testing to assess this.
- The certification process for the remaining sites, which are reportedly complete, appears to be encountering significant delays; none of the 17 sites we reported as being ready for inspection in our last report have been closed out.
- Anecdotally, the new HYPREP Project Coordinator appears to have made positive changes to community engagement and communications. However, levels of community satisfaction with HYPREP and clean-up contractors still remain mixed. Dissatisfaction in communities continues to relate to the poor quality of opportunities offered by the clean-up (e.g. low pay in clean-up jobs), and management of complaints and potential conflict arising from the clean-up.
- The delivery of emergency measures (provision of clean water and the development of a health registry) continues to move slowly. One out of six water projects are in operation. While some medical testing activities have now taken place, we are concerned by reports from community members who say they are not aware what they were for or what the results of these were, suggesting that informed consent was not properly secured.
- Land has been donated for the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Remediation (CEER) and the Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre (ICSMC), but the construction is yet to commence.
- During the reporting period, the bidding process for (medium complex) sites was still ongoing. There is very limited public information about this process, such as the number of sites under consideration and timeline for bid assessment, contractor selection and deployment.