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Environmental protection

The project’s environmental monitoring and management program utilizes numerous tools, practices and activities to safeguard the land, water and air that could potentially be impacted by operations.

Many of these practices are focused on regular maintenance and monitoring of equipment and minimizing the amount of land required for operations. The environmental protection effort also includes activities like updating COTCO and TOTCO’s regulatory systems to take into account the companies’ new role as transportation services companies for multiple shippers; engaging with NGOs and the communities they serve to help protect project assets in Chad and Cameroon; and working with host country governments and businesses to track and manage issues that affect the pipeline right of way.

Monitoring third-party interactions to protect the pipeline

As Cameroon’s economy grows, and new development increases across the country, an important way to assure the integrity of the 1,070 km pipeline is to monitor interactions between planned and existing third party infrastructure. Key activities include bi-monthly coordination meetings with the Pipeline Steering and Monitoring Committee (CPSP), regular right of way inspections, visits with local administration officials, hiring observers to report potentially hazardous activities and methodically tracking projects near the right of way.

While access to the right of way is allowed along most portions of the pipeline, certain restrictions are enforced to keep the pipeline secure. If an activity may negatively impact the pipeline, COTCO can order the work to stop. However, in most cases the third party and the company can reach a mutually viable solution.

For example, planned upgrades to a road through Nguinda village called for topography alterations. COTCO worked with the government and the third party construction company to alter the topography without disturbing the pipeline. COTCO hired a resident of Nguinda, a nearby village, to observe the work and alert the company of any potential issues.

  • Nanga Nanga Pierre, Spotter, COTCO, Nguinda

    “When this road is paved, it will be easier for us to reach larger markets to sell our crops. But if the pipeline is impacted, the environment could be damaged. Because of that, as chief of this area, it is my responsibility to make sure the pipeline remains secure for our community and for the development of the country.”

  • Enouga Onguene Gregoire, Spotter, COTCO

    Building a highway from Yaoundé to Douala involves several activities that could threaten the pipeline. For this reason, the project installed an observer during work activity to alert COTCO should a potentially hazardous activity occur. “It is important to keep the pipeline protected in order to keep communities safe. If there is a problem, communities would be the first affected.”

Implementing environmental protections at Lom Pangar

The Lom Pangar Pipeline Modification Project, a major construction effort to accommodate a multi-billion dollar hydroelectric project to support economic development in Cameroon, was completed in 2014. This work was conducted adjacent to Deng Deng National Park, a protected wildlife area, a region with historically significant archeological artifacts and home to precious and rare plants and animals, including some endangered species. As a result, the project took multiple actions to minimize its environmental impact.

In order to minimize its environmental impact and the risk of future impacts, the project installed and will maintain a rapid-response facility which will have the capability of responding immediately in the unlikely event of an oil spill in the Lom Pangar area. In addition, a continuously maintained access road provides restricted emergency access to much of the area including to three block valves on the pipeline, which can be automatically or manually closed in an emergency. For more information on the Lom Pangar Modification Project, please see the chapter on Economic Development.

Protecting against poaching and other illegal activities

A number of illegal activities threaten Deng Deng National Park’s biodiversity, including poaching of monkeys and other rare animals; the cutting and harvesting of protected trees; and uncontrolled cattle grazing by nomadic herders. To protect against these activities, the project has contributed guard houses, motorcycles, an all-terrain pickup truck and significant quantities of fuel and equipment to the Cameroonian government and its EcoGuard program. The EcoGuards, militarily trained conservationists stationed at Deng Deng, patrol the area and attempt to curtail poaching by observation, education, engagement and working with law enforcement. They also watch for unauthorized activities near the right of way which could threaten the pipeline.

We do this job because we love the wildlife and it makes us happy to be able to help protect it, but this work can be very dangerous as we run the constant risk of being attacked by poachers for interfering in their livelihood. However, since we started in mid-2014 we can already see a big difference – people know they are being watched, and as a result many of them are returning to farming.

Medjo Nang Eugene, Water & Forest Technical Agent