The Head, Environment and Conservation, Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), Dr Kabari Sam, is worried over waste management issues under the clean-up programme. While cautioning against the possibility of a region-wide contamination of land, he wants an Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre (ICSMC) or a Mini Soil Management Centre (MSMC) to be in place
There are lots of things that we seem to have taken for granted in the clean-up process that are very important and waste management is one of them. We were supposed to have somewhere or a preferred environment that will take the waste before we take them to other sites by prospective contractors or people that will carry out the remediation.
Unfortunately, we seem to be putting the cart before the horse and so we might run into trouble at some point because you are digging up waste from somewhere and dumping elsewhere where we have clean land. We do not have an Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre (ICSMC) now and there is no plan on ground for us to have it. Worse still, we do not have a Mini Soil Management Centre (MSMC).
For situations where you don’t have the funds or you don’t have the capacity to build an ICSM, we should have had MSMCs. The difference between the two is the facility they have in both environments.
We are supposed to have at least for a start somewhere to treat the hazardous wastes that will be coming from the polluted sites. We are not learning lessons from the results of our experience. The implication is that if the contractors begin the clean-up today whatever waste that will be arising from those sites, people are going to need land to treat the waste.
Because of the high level of poverty in our community, people will be more than willing to sell or lease their land without asking what their land will be used for and they will fall prey to that because companies will buy the land at whatever exorbitant price because they know what they want to use it for.
It is a big problem that we are going to face because there are reports that contractors have already started acquiring land in other places outside of Ogoni. So, at some point it is going to degenerate into a regional issue and not just an Ogoni issue because they (the contractors) will dig up waste from Ogoni and dump it in other parts of the Niger Delta.
Now we had a similar waste from the initial phase of clean-up that was done in Bodo. Some of us do not know where that waste is at the moment. There was no facility prepared to take that waste, we hope that the waste has been evacuated.
Let us avoid making the same mistake this time around. As we already have sites for clean-up being allocated to contractors, let us have the ICSMCs.