CSOs warn on L. Kivu degassing project dangers – DRC

Lake Kivu,

The degassing project on Lake Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has raised concerns especially on the failure to make public the Environmental and Social Impact (ESI) assessment report.

The most concerned organisations subscribe to Synerg Africa Coal Network, a network known for fighting against water pollution.

In their petition to the country’s Minister for Hydrocarbons, they request publication of the Environmental and Social Impact Study (ESI), as well as the preliminary Public inquiry before the actual exploitation of methane gas in Lake Kivu starts.

On 29th January 2023 the government officially launched the work of degassing Kivu Lake in Goma in the North Kivu Province.

However, the above network believes some legal requirements were neglected and would negatively breed environment and human rights catastrophes.

“We kindly ask you to release the Environmental and Social Impact Study of the selected companiesin accordance with Law No. 15/012 of August 1, 2015 on the general hydrocarbons regime,” they say in the petition dated 23rd March 2023.

They also demand a public inquiry into the project in accordance with Law No. 11/009 of July 9, 2011 on the fundamental principles relating to the protection of the environment, indicated in article 24.

The Synerg Africa Coal Network insists that the exploitation of methane gas in DR Congo should not copy the exploitation model of Rwanda, because in Rwanda, the population of Gisenyi, bordering Lake Kivu, uses the waters of the rivers for drinking contrary to the communities of Goma city in DRC that entirely depend on Lake Kivu.

They fear possible rises in cases of cancer if degassing is carelessly handled.

“In Goma city, the Lake Kivu water treatment by the water distribution company (REGIDESO) and other international organizations is done exclusively by chlorine or chlorine compounds (NaClO: sodium hypochlorite). It should be noted that, when water is treated with chlorine or its compounds and if this water contains traces of hydrocarbons (methane for example), the latter react with chlorine or its compounds and form organochlorines known to be carcinogenic,” they warn.

They remind the government that Lake Kivu contains more than 55 billion cubes of methane gas (CH4) , and four times more than carbon dioxide (CO2) than the area and yet the CH4 is less dense than the area. They fear that in the event of a limnic eruption it is CO2 that would kill many people than CH4. By way of illustration, they raised the case of Lake Nyos in Cameroon, where on August 21st, 1986, a limnic eruption killed 1,746 people and nearly of 3,000 farm animals. The eruption triggered the sudden release of around 100,000 to 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

If this would occur in Lake Kivu, according to German physicist KLAUS TIETZE, millions of people living near Lake Kivu perish with possible escape of large stocks of methane gas and CO2 from this Lake.


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