Center for Environment and Energy Research & Studies (CEERS)

Hydrocarbon contamination of a typical mangrove floor in Niger Delta, Nigeria

The impact of petroleum hydrocarbons on the floor of a mangrove system located on one of the intertidal lands behind the barrier islands of Niger Delta basin of southern Nigeria was evaluated following the Obiafu-14 oil spillage. The area covered by the oil spill was delimited by reconnaissance and soils were sampled by grid method from the bottom and middle slopes of oil-affected and unaffected (control) sites. Soil samples were later brought to the laboratory where total hydrocarbon content was determined by extraction and spectrophotometric techniques. A lower pH range of 4.28-4.36 in the oil impacted soils meant that the site was more acidic; a higher moisture content of 33.34% and lower electrical conductivity (EC) of 31.75μS/cm in the affected area presupposed oxygen deprivation and lower salt content respectively. On the strength of the baseline data on the study area and evidence from the uncontaminated, geographically similar control site, it can be said that the Obiafu-14 oil spillage had severely contaminated the affected mangrove floor. This is corroborated by a total extractable hydrocarbon content of 6.32x103 ± 344 mg/kg (no overlap in Standard Error at 95% Confidence Limit), and the abysmal degradation of the mangrove system at the site. Although soils of the mangrove floor under consideration may well be of limited cultivation value on account of the people’s dual occupation in fishing and farming, the presence of such levels of petroleum hydrocarbons at the study site might hamper agricultural productivity.

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