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A multi-attribute methodology for the prioritisation of oil contaminated sites in the Niger Delta

Sam, Kabari, Coulon, Frédéric, Prpich, George
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.579 pp. 1323-1332
United Nations Environment Programme, data analysis, environmental assessment, environmental impact, hydrocarbons, multi-criteria decision making, oils, petroleum, prioritization, resource allocation, risk, risk assessment, risk management, river deltas, socioeconomics, Nigeria
The Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta contains a vast number of sites contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons that originated from Nigeria's active oil sector. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reported on this widespread contamination in 2011, however, wide-scale action to clean-up these sites has yet to be initiated. A challenge for decision makers responsible for the clean-up of these sites has been the prioritisation of sites to enable appropriate allocation of scarce resources. In this study, a risk-based multi-criteria decision analysis framework was used to prioritise high-risk sites contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons in the Ogoniland region of Nigeria. The prioritisation method used a set of risk-based attributes that took into account chemical and ecological impacts, as well as socio-economic impacts, providing a holistic assessment of the risk. Data for the analysis was taken from the UNEP Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, where over 110 communities were assessed for oil-contamination. Results from our prioritisation show that the highest-ranking sites were not necessarily the sites with the highest observed level of hydrocarbon contamination. This differentiation was due to our use of proximity as a surrogate measure for likelihood of exposure. Composite measures of risk provide a more robust assessment, and can enrich discussions about risk management and the allocation of resources for the clean-up of affected sites.