ERA Field Report # 216

 Location: Abesan in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos

 Date: March 16, 2010

•    More wells and boreholes turn up with petroleum products
•    NNPC fails to take responsibility and provide alternative source of water for impacted     people
•    Community people forced to patronize water vendors and unwholesome sources

On March 15, 2010 residents of Abesan Estate and Baruwa community in Alimosho LGA of Lagos alerted ERA/FoEN on the need to help draw government attention to the dangers of large quantity of petroleum products they observed in their wells and boreholes.
Although they had written to the Lagos State government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), up till that point, the attention of the general public had not been drawn to their plight.

ERA/FoEN monitors had only recently alerted on similar findings in Ijegun (September 2009) in Ikotun LGA and Diamond Estate (January 2010).
In the case of Abesan, monitors that visited on March 16, 2010 were informed that the incident was a result of a petroleum products pipeline rupture that occurred in 1993 near the Abesan Housing Estate but was not properly clamped by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Several community people that monitors spoke with explained that the spill had polluted ground water and made life unbearable for them. They also expressed fears that there may also be an explosion unless prompt action is taken by the relevant authorities.

The Cause
In 1993 a rupture involving pipes belonging to NNPC that were not properly buried was reported by residents of Abesan Estate.  In spite of the volume of products spewed in the environment, the corporation did not respond until three days later. Officials of the corporation that visited the scene sealed the ruptured site but within a few days, several home owners in the estate started observing deposits in the water from their wells and boreholes.
Their complaints to NNPC through letters only attracted two official visits from the corporations officials who visited the few affected apartments and took samples. They also  sealed wells and boreholes with confirmed quantities of petroleum products. But if the residents thought a solution was in sight, they were disappointed as nothing else was heard from the corporation until 2005, precisely twelve years later.

A retiree and home owner, Pastor Bisi Ibiyemi narrated his experience: “A few days after the so-called clamping,  my neighbour complained of petrol in her well. After reporting the incident to NNPC they arrested her and alleged she was engaged in bunkering but they later found that all the buildings around were experiencing the same thing and released her.”
Going further, he revealed that “at a point in 1993 the quantity of products coming from the borehole was so much that officers of the nearby army barracks started making money from our predicament. Officers from the Command School started bringing tankers to fetch the fuel and made their wives and children petrol merchants. That stopped later but the situation has remained unchanged.”  
It was gathered that in 2005, following reports that more houses had started recording spewed content, officials of the NNPC again came to collect samples and left without making any promises or plans for cleanup.
At that time, residents had also requested the corporation to provide alternative source of water to cushion the sudden hardship inflicted on the home owners. There was also no response to this appeal.
Presently, contents of the pipelines have found its way into underground water and has now affected over 1,000 houses in the estate. Even the nearby Baruwa area has not been spared as inhabitants of the area have also noticed petroleum products gushing from their taps.

“We are really suffering. We cannot use the water for anything because you immediately notice petrol when you fetch it from the well. We had previously decided to use the water for flushing the toilet but it has also become dangerous because once there is spark it can ignite. It is really terrible”
-Miss Tayo Oyekunle, student
“This is simply wicked of the NNPC. We have been suffering since 1993 and they have deliberately shunned all the letters we wrote to them asking for a solution to this problem. It is sad that even after the Lagos State government asked them to act to save us all this trouble they refused to respond. Because of this, we have to depend on water vendors to get water for even the minutest use”
-    Chief Lekan Oyekunle, resident and Chairman of Action Congress (AC), Alimosho LGA

“I moved into the estate in 1996 and operate a laundry and dry cleaning outfit here. Since we moved in we have not used the water for any tangible thing because you can even perceive petrol once you fetch it. The corrosive content has damaged our pumping machineand because of that  my business is affected. You can’t believe that I expend over N4,000 every week to get water to run the business. It is really a setback that government must make NNPC address.
-Mrs. Oluremi Adeyemi, resident, Abesan Estate
“Imagine what families here have been going through since 1993. At a point in the search for alternative I wanted to dig another well after the existing one was filled with petrol but I had to halt that plan because the workmen that entered the well nearly suffocated. NPC had promised us water in tanks but they never honoured their promise. This problem has cost me much because we now procure water from tankers for N3,000 and this is done twice weekly. All my pension goes into just water”
-Pastor Bisi Ibiyemi, Home Owner, Abesan Estate

•    The Federal and Lagos state governments must compel NNPC  to immediately carry out a comprehensive environmental audit of the entire Abesan and Baruwa Communities in line with international best practice
•    Compel NNPC to immediately mop up petroleum products from boreholes/ wells
•    NNPC must be compelled to provide alternative water sources for the people
•    NNPC must be compelled to compensate residents of the community.

Green Hotlines
Green Hotlines
Is there a spill, pipeline rupture, fire, gas flare, water, land or air pollution in your community or one you know about? Do you need assistance to respond, and prevent future occurrences or have you noticed any activity that threatens the environment?

In the event of any ecological disaster or threat to the environment, call our toll-free GREEN LINES:  08031230088 & 08031230089