Abandoned Oil Exploration Waste Worries Arua Residents

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In short
Residents of Rhino Camp Sub County in Arua district, where Neptune has been carrying out oil exploration have expressed fears over the abandoned oil exploration waste in the area.

Residents of Rhino Camp Sub County in Arua district, where Neptune has been carrying out oil exploration have expressed fears over the abandoned oil exploration waste in the area.

The residents through their LC 3 chairperson Uthman Aduvuku, have asked the district environment office to assist them link up with Neptune to come and clear the waste that they claim can easily become a health risk to them.

Neptune, the company licensed by the government to carry out oil exploration in West Nile, drilled its first two wells in Rhino Camp at Aviv 1 and Iti 1 where they did not hit oil. When they closed the exploration sites, all the waste materials such as the mud cuttings were packed in sacks and the waste water contained in a reservoir for further decontamination.

But because no attention has been paid by the company and the national environment regulatory body—NEMA—to help manage the waste, many residents have become worried.

According to Aduvuku, they have informed the office of the district environment officer but to date no action has been taken to address their grievances. Before Neptune workers left Aviv area, soldiers were deployed to guard the waste but now all of them have left.

Joachim Andiandu, the district environment officer says that at the moment former Iti-1 site is healthy and safe for both human and animal settlement, adding that it is currently undergoing steady natural regeneration. He says the owners can even go and occupy it.

At Aviv 1 where the waste is currently being kept, Andiandu says the liquid waste is being managed by the company to avoid any contamination with the underground water sources.

He says the challenge now they face is that so far no clear guidelines have been issued by NEMA on the management and disposal of such waste emanating from oil exploration activities.

The environment watchdog, he revealed, issued instructions for handling the waste locally at the site awaiting a report from contractors researching on possible waste management methods based on international standards.

But Rashid Mugabi, Neptune Environment and Community affairs officer said that before they left the two sites they made sure all the waste was carried away. He said what is remaining in Aviv 1 is just mud and any time they will come back to dispose it.