An open source investigation into South Sudan’s oil industry and the pollution it causes through inadequate management and regulation.
Since the discovery of oil in what is now known as South Sudan, bloody conflicts have been waged over control of areas rich with this “black gold.” During Sudan’s second civil war the oil concession areas in the south became epicentres of conflict and massive human rights abuses. During the war, oil companies from all over the world invested billions into the exploration and extraction of the oil. Yet absence of enforcement of environmental regulations, corruption, and lack of proper maintenance in oil infrastructure have been haunting its production since.
Academics, local communities, and civil society organisations have been flagging concerns over local oil spills for years, fearing health risks from pollution of drinking water vital for nearby villages. Preliminary research indicates heavy metal pollution from oil production, which warrants more investigation into the potential health risk from polluted ground water. This open source investigation article is both a deep-dive into the numerous disturbing incidents and a small guide on monitoring oil spills and fires in the north of South Sudan. It aims to inspire more research into how a failing oil industry is risking poisoning the lives of local communities and the environment they depend on.