AN APPROACH TOWARDS EFFECTIVE MONITORING OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION RESULTING FROM PETROLEUM INDUSTRY ACTIVITIES
The environmental impact of exploration and production activities of the Petroleum industry is diverse, ranging from negligible effects of landscape through severe degradation, health hazards to significant and unavoidable impacts like pollution from oil spills and subsidence due to fluid withdrawal from the subsurface. Operating strictly according to environmental regulations significantly increases drilling, waste disposal and site restoration costs, thereby cutting down profits. Thus, industry operators cut corners. The industry for fear of exposing damage done and being asked to pay “huge” compensation play down Environmental Impact Statements. Backed by government run on oil, the industry is portrayed as a system that promotes research and development in areas that lead to strategic profitability rather than as one that is systematically disturbing the delicate natural balance of our environment. Public opinion and pressure is thus seen as perhaps the only effective monitor of environmental pollution and will continue to play this role for a long time in the future. The need for the formation of organized agencies with significant legal responsibilities towards localities that oil operations might endanger is therefore stressed. Although a review of the Mineral Acts of Nigeria and legislation on strict environmental standards is suggested, the oil industry is urged to turn and face the pollution effect of its activities as huge profits have already been made.
Francis D. Udoh and Offiong I. Akpanika