Remediating South Sudan’s War-induced Petroleum Environmental Damage: Environmental baseline Conditions and Current Impacts

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Nhial Tiitmamer
The Sudd Institute
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This paper reviews the existing literature to determine the adequacy of evidence and extent
of the environmental impacts in the oil producing areas in South Sudan. The following is
o Evidence from previous studies shows that there is a serious environmental and
social disaster in the three oil producing areas, even though such evidence does not
generate enough consensus for the decision makers.
o Environmental impacts assessments (EIA) conducted before the oil operations
reveal that (1) the air in these locations was of good quality and (2) the water was
safe for both human and animal consumption, except for the pockets with high
concentration of salt in groundwater in the Um Ruwaba geological region.
o Still, many parameters of environmental quality usually recognized by World
Health Organization (WHO) have not been tested in both the EIAs and related
environmental studies.
o In summary, existing evidence links high concentrations of salt and heavy metals to
oil exploration, development and production, which are the cause of the widely
reported birth defects, miscarriages, infertility, and cancers in the affected areas.
We recommend a comprehensive, independent environmental and social assessment to
determine the extent of environmental and social impacts. Resulting insights could be used
to develop remediation measures to restore the environment and address related health
and social problems. The assessment should be carried out by a reputable firm or an
organization, which would need to be selected by the Ministry of Environment and
Forestry through a competitive bidding process. In the long term, results from this
assessment could help lay the foundation for sustainable development, provide oil
companies with new social license to operate, avert potential conflict and ecological
disasters, and aid in building a lasting peace in the country
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