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Press Release

UNEP Launches Assessment of Oil-Contaminated Sites in the Niger Delta
30/ 11/ 2009

UNEP Launches Assessment of Oil-Contaminated Sites in the Niger DeltaInternational experts will conduct field-based assessments in over 300 sites to identify the impacts of oil on land, water, agriculture, fisheries and air - as well as the indirect effects on biodiversity and human health.

Port Harcourt/Nairobi, 27 November 2009 - A major assessment of the impacts of oil production in the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta was jointly launched today by the Governor of Rivers State and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Bori, Nigeria.

The assessment, which was requested by the Government of Nigeria, will last approximately one year.

Oil exploration and production in the oil-rich Niger Delta region started during the 1950s, but operations were suspended in the early 1990s due to local public unrest. The oil fields and installations in Ogoniland have since remained dormant.

Environmental contamination from these operations has not been remediated to date, or only partially remediated. In addition, further spills have resulted from lack of maintenance, oil tapping, and damage to oil infrastructure and facilities over the last 15 years.

The findings of the environmental assessment will be used to make recommendations on the appropriate levels of remediation needed to rehabilitate the land to a condition that is environmentally acceptable, on the basis of international standards.

The total budget for the assessment is USD 9.5 million, which is provided by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). The SPDC is a joint venture operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Shell, Elf/Total and Agip, in which the Government of Nigeria has a stake of 55 percent.

A project office has been opened by UNEP in Port Harcourt to support the operation.

UNEP's final assessment report is expected to be published by end 2010.

For more information, please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, on Tel: +41 79 596 5737, or Email: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Silja Halle, UNEP Communications Advisor, on Tel: +41 22 917 8441, or Email: silja.halle@unep.ch

Further Resources
UNEP Disasters & Conflict site