Scientists seek efficient environmental impact management of mining sites
Scientist under the aegis of Environmental Process and Forensic Research Group (ENPROFORG), Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State, have called for efficient management of environmental impact of mining sites in the country.
They made the call during a one-day symposium and stakeholders meeting themed “Role of Environmental Forensics in the Efficient Management of Environmental Impacts of Mining in Nigeria”, held at the mini auditorium, NEEDS Assessment Building of the University.
The group, in a communique signed by their Principal Investigator, Dr. Peter Okoli, said their work was based on samples collected from many mining sites across the country and decried the non-compliance to environmental impact assessment.
Declaring the symposium open, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sunday Elom, represented by the Deputy Vice- Chancellor, Administration, Prof. Abel Ezeoha, expressed gladness and thanked the Department of Chemistry for making the University proud through ENPROFORG.
He reiterated the decision of the vice-chancellor to use the human resource at the disposal of the institution to ensure the progress of society to mitigate the inadequacies in the mining sector with the hope that things would get better in the country, especially in the university system.
In a presentation titled: “Mining of Solid Minerals- Economic Benefits and the Environmental Conundrum”, Prof. Amobi Ekwe, said economic development is significantly influenced by mining with numerous economic, environmental and social issues that have also been linked to it, raising concerns about the sustainability of the mining’s economic benefits.
To overcome the problems, Ekwe said the industry must lessen its negative effects on the environment, society, culture, health, and human development, as well as on governance and macroeconomic management.
Speaking on “Impediments to implementation of Polluter-Pays Principle in Nigeria’s Extractive Industry”, Dr. Onyekachi Eni, who also is the Acting Dean, Faculty of Law, said the Polluter-Pays Principle (PPP) which was created and credited to British economist in 1920 is a system where the polluter is held responsible for clean up.
He said the principle was inculcated as an environmental and legal tool in 1972 in Brazil.
Okoli, who spoke on “Chemistry in Court Room-Isotope Finger Printing as Forensic Tool for Managing Environmental Pollution in Nigeria”, described the challenges of environmental forensics in Nigeria as a serious setback to proper utilization of the mineral resources in the country.
He cited cases of environmental pollution in the various mining sites in Ikwo and Enyigba in Ebonyi State, coal mining sites in Enugu state and gold mining sites in Zamfara state.
He noted that mining companies are only interested in mining mineral resources without considering the health hazards and risks associated with the mining activities as there are no mitigation policies aimed at reclaiming the mining sites.
He further stated that it is usually difficult to hold a mining company responsible for a particular environmental pollution as the companies channel their waste products far away from the mining sites which makes it difficult for initialization of compensation.
Based on this ugly development, Okoli stressed that the environmental pollutions can only be mitigated by the use of Isotope finger printing as a forensic tool for the management of environmental pollution through the samples collected from different mining sites.
He, therefore, recommended the development of Isotope finger printing for forensic test.
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