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EACOP ESIA: Vehicle collisions, fire, oil spills & sabotage top the list of risks

The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for the East African Crude Oil Export Pipeline (EACOP) project, lists accidents from vehicle collisions, fire, in-land oil spills and sabotage among the top risks the project faces. The ESIA report was submitted to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) for review and subsequent approval (after stakeholders share their views and input). In July 2019, NEMA invited the public to submit their views on the report either in writing or during public hearings. The report was prepared by Total East Africa Midstream BV – an affiliate of French oil giant, Total SA.

Other potential impacts from unplanned events include: earthquakes and landslides according to the report. According to the report, vehicle collisions will likely cause injury or mortality to members of the public, workforce, livestock and or physical damage to community assets, structures or even project assets. In order to mitigate the potential impacts, the report proposes the establishment of transport and road safety management plan.  According to the report, the anticipated vehicle collisions, could lead to spillage of transported fuels or chemicals causing contamination of soil and water with toxicity affecting living organisms. It proposes to put in place an emergency preparedness and response plan.

The crude oil export pipeline is expected to traverse 9 districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Mubende, Gomba, Sembabule, Lwengo, Kyotera and Rakai. In these districts, the pipeline will traverse 22 sub-counties, 4 town councils, 41 parishes and an estimated total of 172 villages and hamlets. “The main source of livelihood in these areas is agriculture and most settlements are concentrated along national and secondary roads. Settlements often have a central trading place,” the report ESIA report notes. 

“Religious structures are the most common cultural heritage with a physical local and strong intangible sensitivity, including four churches within 100 metres of the pipeline footprint, and three cemeteries, two of which are within the project footprint and a third within 100 metres,” the report reads in part. It is not clear in the report whether the churches and cemeteries will be relocated.

In the report, it is proposed that during the construction phase, several measures will be put in place to mitigate and minimize the negative impacts of the project to the host communities. “During the construction phase of the oil pipeline, local community offices will be established at locations along the route to provide stakeholders direct access to community location coordinators, community liaison officers and grievance officers,” the report proposes in one of the mitigation measures.

It further adds, “The Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) team will continue stakeholder engagement throughout the resettlement process. The grievance mechanism will continue to provide opportunities for stakeholders and potentially affected communities to express grievances about the project activities.”

The report anticipates conflicts mainly related to land and property valuations. In order to mitigate and minimize such conflicts the report proposes that the EACOP project has and will continue to establish a non-judicial grievance handling mechanism to respond to the stakeholders’ concerns and facilitate resolution of stakeholders’ grievances.  The grievance mechanism will be compliant with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights effectiveness criteria for project–level grievance mechanism.

EXPECTED ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

According to the report, the pipeline project will have minimal environmental impact. “Direct operational emissions in Uganda will range from 11 – 18,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year throughout the 25 year project life,” the report reads. This represents around 0.029 percent of Uganda’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2030.

“The contribution of the EACOP to national emissions is therefore low and will not affect Uganda’s ability to meet its emission reduction targets under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Paris Agreement,” the report concludes.

In terms of cumulative impacts of the pipeline project, the report highlights the expected economic boost due to employment, training and purchasing associated with not only the EACOP project but the Kingfisher and Tilenga projects too.

The report calls for setting up of several management plans to mitigate and minimize the potential negative impacts of the projects. These include plans for the management of labour, project induced in-migration, community health and safety, soil, biodiversity, pollution prevention, cultural heritage, resettlement action plan, stakeholder engagement and waste management among other management plans. However, none of the plans and or plan structures are annexed to the ESIA report.

by: Edward Ssekika,
Edited by Muhumuza Didas