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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH THE PRODUCTION OF OIL AND GAS IN EWEREGBENE COMMUNITY AND ITS ENVIRONS, DELTA STATE, NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT The study was carried out to examine the influence oil and gas exploration in the environmental health of residents in Eweregbene Community and its environs in Warri South West Local Government Area, Delta State. Four research questions were
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    ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH THE PRODUCTION OF OIL AND GAS IN EWEREGBENE COMMUNITY AND ITS ENVIRONS, DELTA STATE, NIGERIA BY ODEJERHO, EMMANUEL emmyodej2014@gmail.com , +2348035001941 DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION, FACULTY OF EDUCATION, UNIVERSITY OF BENIN, BENIN CITY. Being a paper Presented on the 21 st  National Conference of the Nigerian Association of Health Educators at Micheal Otedola College of Primary Education, Lagos    ABSTRACT The study was carried out to examine the influence oil and gas exploration in the environmental health of residents in Eweregbene Community and its environs in Warri South West Local Government Area, Delta State. Four research questions were raised. Descriptive survey reproach design was adopted for the study. A Self  –   structured questionnaire (R=0.26) was administrated to 110 residents using  proportional stratified sampling techniques. Data was analysed using frequency counts and percentage. It was found that majority of the residents agreed that they experience irritation in their skin, gaseous smell, dizzinessand drought as associated with oil and gas exploration. Also, Operational procedure, exchange of drilling equipment and use of efficient design were agreed upon by residents as measures of environmental health impact control. The needs to stop gas flaring, Carry out environmental impacts assessment regularly, among others were recommended  . Key words: Gas flaring, Pollutant, Oil exploration, Biodiversity Introduction The environment according to Abrahams (1971) is the sum total of all the internal and external conditions influencing the growth and development of an organism. It could be physical, biological or chemical in nature. Keller (1996) thus indicated that the environment is considered abused when an injurious or corrupting elements are introduced which by fouling it reduces the satisfaction and utility derivable from growing and developing it. The elements that insult the environment are many and varied, but most commonly, though not exclusively, manifest as wastes.    Wastes are usually considered in three categories, namely: Gaseous, liquid and solid. Societal sensitivity to these forms of pollutants tends to vary depending on difference in the levels of awareness technology and socio-economic development of the people. It is generally observed that rural dwellers in the third world seem to believe that their bodies are equipped with special strength that neutralize the influence or effect of liquid pollutants, (Adebanjo, 1999). The impact of the existence and activities of these companies to Eweregbene Community and its environs is a cause for concern. It is on this basis that the  present study tends to focus on the environmental health problems of the area. However, they are quick to assert that their forefather’s drank from the same streams and wells and lived longer and healthier. The exploration and production of oil and gas to Eweregbene Community and environs are major industrial development, has played major roles in the socio-economic structure of Nigeria. However, it has its negative environmental effects especially in the oil producing areas of the Niger Delta Basin. With its very delicate riverine and mangrove ecology which serves as an important source of food is being adversely affected. Almost 90% of the country’s oil comes from the Niger Delta such as Ewregbene community, Egwa II in Delta State. This oil has led to the discharge of pollutants to the fragile environment of these communities. Oil pollution has become a major focus to industries like Chevron, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (S.P.D.C) now Neconde Company and other exploration companies because of its importance of the oil producing communities and the society at large. Beside this, man throughout the ages has been in different  professions to which the production of oil and gas is a recent venture. This eventually has adverse effects on human health and the environment. Eweregbene Community and its environs, the area of study, is located in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State. It has a population of    13,500 inhabitants known as the Western Ijaw and they speak Izon as their language. The people’s occupation is mainly fishing while farming is their minor means of livelihood. They cultivate yams, cassava, cocoyam, vegetables and the like. The major structural features of the community which have influenced the health of the inhabitants are the presence of the Well Head station in Eweregbene Community known as Wellhead 22. It has been in existence since 1975 through the creation of Shell Petroleum Development Company (S.P.D.C.) exploration. Before now, what was known as ‘TEKEDOR RIVER’. The terminal was located on the land of Eweregbene Community which is surrounded by Odidi Community, Egwa I South, Egwa II and Ajuju Batan, (North) and Kantu Community along Odidi (West). The Eweregbene wellhead station produces about 30,000 Barrels of oil per day (Department of Petroleum Resource- DPR, 1995), while 48,000 as at 2006. There are oil and gas exploration facilities such as the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company Pipeline and gas line which have been in community since 1974 till date and the S.P.D.C. since 1975, Neconde the new company that took over shell petroleum. Apart from these establishments, other companies have been working in the community which is both private and indigenous in nature. These include Nest Oil, Lee Engineering, PPMC, Julius Berger and Mannesmann company, Slumberger, Company, , Daew oo, Fenog (Nig.) Limited, De’ Wayles’ Envalcanudo (Nig.) Limited and a host of others. The wellhead station are also connected to sixteen (16) Well heads through its test separator and reservoir tank and distributes to the Forcados Terminal where distribution is made to the refineries. At any event of oil spillage which contributes largely to the environmental health impact of oil exploration, the flow line, source vessel and the delivery line may have been affected either through vandalism or    operational accidents. Since the advent of the oil in the community, the involvement of the inhabitants in commercial fishing is now drastically reduced or gone and all these are now history, hence some of the indigenes are employed as casual laborers and sometimes contract staff, in the existing companies in the area. Statement of the problem Petroleum exploration and production have several environmental, social and economic problems to the oil mineral producing communities in Nigeria. For example, the drilling for oil on land and river has invariably led to the clearing of vegetation and fishes to make ways for seismic or pipe/gas lines which eventually disturb the soil and water lives and activities ranging from operational faults to accidents and harmful to other resources. Some quantities of oil/gas products are released into the environment during oil exploration, storage processing and distribution. Thus, one of the most serious problems emanating from the oil  pollution is oil spillage to which Odu (1981) lamented its health and environmental consequences. Environmental pollution from the production of oil and gas is essentially waste dump thereby rendering the water and land are unfit for agriculture, and it also emits harmful chemicals into the atmosphere apart from offensive odour which may cause respiratory diseases. Moreover, liquid waste dumped to the sea is toxic and hazardous to aquatic life (Ekekwe, Fagade & Kinako, 1981). Kaldany, (2001) stated that the Nigeria government has not enforced environmental regulation effectively because of the overlapping and conflicting  jurisdiction of separate government agencies governing petroleum and the environment, as well as because of non-transparent governance mechanisms. In the same vein the Nigerian Fede ral government’s main interest in the oil industry is to maximize its monetary profits from oil production. Based on this, the oil
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