THE EFFECT OF OIL SPILLAGE ON THE GROWTH OF HIBISCUS ESCULENTUS - OKRA
- BACKGROUND OF STUDY
The increasing rate of crude oil pollution on farmlands in particular and generally to our environment is one, which is a disturbing reality to the inhabitants of areas that are affected and also to companies that are involved in the oil prospecting and exploration. Crude oil is a natural inheritance present in the beds of ancient seas. It is a complex and varied mixture of a number of hydrocarbons with small amount of sulfur, nitrogen and oxygen. It is believed to be of organic origin, which occurs naturally in the upper strata of the earth in various parts of the world. There are different types of crude oil and this is a function of the different amount of different hydrocarbons and other sub molecules. Crude oil especially from different field varies widely in physical and chemical properties. As mentioned, crude oil are essential mixtures of hydrocarbon, but not all hydrocarbons are present in every crude oil and in situations where the same hydrocarbons are present in the same proportion. This gives the basis for the formation of different types of crude. The character of crude is determined by the kind of hydrocarbons it contains and the proportion in which they are mixed. Nearly all crude are lighter (less dense) and water flow quite readily, but some are heavy and do not flow freely. Crude from one field may be almost colourless; that form another black but usually the colour varies from light amber to light and dark green and brown. Small amounts of sulfur, nitrogen and oxygen are mixed with the hydrocarbons. Some crude have high sulfur content; those are called sour crude because of their odour. Those with low sulfur contents are called sweet crude. The hydrocarbon molecules in petroleum vary in the number of hydrocarbon atoms and in the pattern in which the atoms are arranged. Those with a large number of carbon atoms make up the thicker and heavier parts of fractions of crude oil such as asphalt. Other molecules with small number of atoms make up the lighter and more volatile fractions such as gasoline. With the knowledge that crude is beneath the earth surface we may ask how one can access crude and this is done by drilling. After crude has been drilled, it has to be refined to suit human needs.
Crude is usually transported to the refineries and this is the part that is of great disturbance because in the process of transportation, a lot of spillage occurs such as spillage from tankers, leakage from off shore wells, leakage from pipelines and trucks and even from underground storage tanks.
Hibiscus esculentus (okra) is a garden plant closely related to the hibiscus. This plant is popularly used in Nigeria by more than 60% of the country’s human population. It produces pods eaten in soup, arid stews and as a fried or boiled vegetable. It is grown as a fruit vegetable in most of the West African Countries. The plant grows up to 3 meters or more with the dwarf variety reaching 1 to 1.5 meter in height. It has a hairy wooden stem and a tap root system. The leaves are hairy, broad, large and bright yellows. The pods grow up to 5-10cm in length. Hibiscus esculentus is a source of carbohydrate, some protein and mainly vitamin A and this gives the plant medicinal importance since vitamin A promotes the formation of visual purple eye pigment that is destroyed by light. The vitamins A present in this plant also is very necessary in keeping the skin and the mucous membrane healthy and is necessary for the normal formation and growth of bones and teeth. Okra also has some economical importance as it has been exported as food to other countries.
The effect of crude oil pollution on plant growth and germination varies according to the type and amount of spillage involved. The degree of its weathering, the time of year and specie and age of the plant or plants concerned. The effects that have been observed include the oil trapping ability of vegetation, the yellowing and death of oiled leaves, a great reduction of seedling and of annual species, differing susceptibilities and recovery rates of perennials, a competitive advantage to some species, and growth stimulation. Chronic pollution may completely eliminate germination hence, no vegetation.
Oil spills in Niger-delta region of Nigeria and indiscriminate disposal of crude oil into gutter, water drains, vacant plots among automobile mechanics that change oil from motor vehicles and generators have been found to be hazardous to both plants and animals. (Anoliefo et al, 2001; Emmanuel et al; 2006).
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
There is a general increase in the pollution of farmlands as a result of crude oil spill. Sometimes, this waste is discharged into oceans and other water bodies which may flow to land, later causing pollution on farmlands. This has necessitated the search in other to know the level of damage caused so that compensation and treatment of the land can commence.
1.3 AIM OF STUDY
This study is to determine the effect of oil spillage on the growth of Hibiscus esculentus (okra) and thereby elucidate the harm done by oil exploration to the economic mainstay of the people of the Niger Delta.
1.4 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The soil samples gotten will be used to plant Hibiscus esculentus. The experiment is going to be done in three (3) groups. Group A will contain the unpolluted soil, thereby serving as the control, group B will contain the crude contaminated soil before planting and group C will contain the contaminated soil after the growth of plant has begun. Okra seeds will be planted at the same time and day, and their level of growth will be determined and evaluated.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research is to help educate oil explorers, farmers and the world at large about the dangers of crude oil spillage to crops, human life and the entire ecosystem.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research is limited to the evaluation of crude oil effect on the growth and germination of plants using Hibiscus esculentus (okra) as the experimental plant.