Long-Term Effects of Crude Oil Spillage on Selected Physicochemical Properties Including Heavy Metal Contents of Sandy Tropical Soil

  • Abasiama S. Umoren
  • Chioma M. Igwenagu
  • Peter I. Ezeaku
  • Gloria I. Ezenne
  • Sunday E. ObalumEmail author
  • Bitrus D. Gyang
  • Charles A. Igwe


Crude oil spillage effects on the environment often wane with time, making late remediation of affected soils look irrelevant. Physicochemical quality of a sandy soil under 9-year-old spillage was compared with that of adjacent unaffected site in southern Nigeria. Soil bulk density and equilibrated water content were higher in affected than unaffected site, but permeability did not change. The spillage increased soil pH, organic carbon, total nitrogen and available phosphorus by about 7%, 1700%, 133% and − 16%, respectively. It lowered divalent exchangeable bases/acidity but raised base saturation. It increased total petroleum hydrocarbon (PHCt) and micronutrients/heavy metals (Fe, Mn, Zn, Cd and Pb), all of which were below their critical limits in soils by regulatory bodies. Soil pH, organic carbon and PHCt correlated positively with all five micronutrients/heavy metals; total nitrogen did so with Zn and Pb. Nine-year period may be insufficient for spillage effects in sandy soils to cease to be evident. Such effects for PHCt and heavy metals, however, are deemed tolerable for ecological safety.


Environmental pollution Past spillage Petroleum hydrocarbon Natural remediation 



We would like thank the Association of African Universities (AAU) based in Ghana for the financial grant to the first author in the 2016/2017 fiscal year towards his MSc research (part of which is reported here) at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Nigeria. The assistance of Dr AC Ofomata of the Centre for Energy Research & Development of UNN in the standardization of the heavy metal analyses and interpretation of same is acknowledged.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abasiama S. Umoren
    • 1
  • Chioma M. Igwenagu
    • 1
  • Peter I. Ezeaku
    • 1
  • Gloria I. Ezenne
    • 2
  • Sunday E. Obalum
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bitrus D. Gyang
    • 1
  • Charles A. Igwe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Soil ScienceUniversity of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural & Bioresources EngineeringUniversity of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria

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