FUTA researchers unveil new method of cleaning petroleum hydrocarbon contaminated groundwater
A combined team of researchers from the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), University of Osun and Afe Babalola University have successfully devised a system of cleaning underground water contaminated by petroleum hydrocarbon caused by seepage from oil pipeline.
The project was unveiled at the Lagos Sheraton hotel during a one day workshop held on Tuesday March 27, 2018.
The leader of the team of Experts, who is a professor of Geotechnical and Geo-environmental Engineering at FUTA, Samuel Ola said that the method, which pilot project was undertaken to clean water wells contaminated by oil spillage from pipelines of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Baruwa Community, Lagos was a product of a four year research was funded by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND.
He said that his team had determined that groundwater contamination by petroleum hydrocarbon would continue to assail the country until the sources of the contamination were tackled.
According to him, at the commencement of the study, hydrocarbon product was found on top of the groundwater in wells in the community isolated for the research, adding that through a combination of modern technology and oil grabber skimmer model, the remediation process undertaken by the team was successful, leading to the extraction of petroleum hydrocarbon from the groundwater of wells used for the study.
“In-site chemical oxidation was also used and after about 30 weeks of monitoring, there were dramatic reduction in the hydrocarbon content of the groundwater with some of the pilot wells recording zero contamination,” Ola said.
He said the decontamination could not be sustained because the source of the ground water in the community becauae of the oil spills from ruptured NNPC pipelines, remained unfixed.
“Groundwater pollution from leaking NNPC/PPMC underground pipelines in Baruwa community has been continuous. The leakage source persistent as evidenced by fresh petroleum product detection in the groundwater at some of the observation wells after the successful clean-up of the pilot scheme area by experts using modern remediation methods” he explained.
Ola warned that that Groundwater pollution problem discovered in Baruwa was already extending to other areas of Lagos such as Diamond Estate, Isheri Road and Gowon Estate.
A member of the Baruwa community, Prof. Joseph Ogungbamigbe said the contamination, which was still ongoing had brought untold hardship in spite of several promises by NNPC to remedy the situation.
He said the Corporation had done little to tackle the problem and fuel continued to leak into the groundwater from 1996 till date making life unbearable for the people and killing businesses in some instances.
Ogungbamigbe lauded TETFUND National Research Group for its dogged pursuit of its mandate over four years, describing its research and outcome as transparent for everyone to see.
“The entire Baruwa Community is grateful for this research team that laboured tirelessly on the community without any cost from our part” he said.
The Director Environment at the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Dr Musa Zagi called for the sustenance of such efforts, adding that “sincere engagement between government, national oil corporations, IOC’s and host communities to tackle oil spill and environmental exploration, remained the best way out.
He said the DPR would continue to be commited to set agenda that would guarantee clean, safe and suitable environment for all.
The Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Olufemi Bamiro lauded the approach of the Research team, adding that they demonstrated the application of knowledge to solve real life situation and adapted inter-disciplinary approach.
Bamiro appealed to Federal Government and other relevant agencies to leverage on the result of the study to solve the problem of Baruwa Community and other areas whose environments continued to bear the brunt of oil exploration and exploitation.
He said the consensus of opinion at the workshop was the urgent need to replace the apparently old and corroded PPMC pipelines to ensure pipeline integrity and stop further leakage.
The Executive Secretary of TETFUND, Dr Abdulahi Baffa who was represented by Mrs. Mary Israel –Cookey said that Fund would continue to fund research that solves real life problems and advance the course of academic development in the country.
He commended the research group for the feat.
Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Olufemi Bamiro, representatives of the Baruwa Community, officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), NNPC, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, LASEPA and other stakeholders attended the event.