The burden of industrialisation on ecosystem and its threat to Vision 20: 2020
Industrialisation is the engine that drives national economies and has contributed to increasing the quality of life to unimaginable levels. Paradoxically, it has also caused negative impacts on the ecosystem and human health when not properly managed. Industries produce unwanted harmful by-products and hazardous wastes, effluents, sludge, gaseous emissions which contributed significantly to environmental pollution posing serious burden on the ecosystems.
Nigeria has undergone relatively rapid industrialisation over the last four decades as a result of huge revenue from Oil and gas export. However, industrialisation was not guided by comprehensive environmental awareness, governance, efficient regulatory systems, enforced planning regulations and environmentally sound waste management practices. Low-level of socio-economic development of rural areas in Nigeria, evidenced by absence of modern social amenities and highly limited opportunities for meaningful employment, is the major-push factor responsible for the high rate of rural -urban migration (U.N. systems in Nigeria-Nigeria Common Country Assessment 2001).
It is on a very sad note that Nigeria even after creating the Ministry of Environment in 1999 (compare to the Democratic Republic of Congo which was the first African Country to create a Ministry of Environment in 1975 after attending the Stockholm Conference of 1972; remembering the ugly incidence of Koko when 3,888 tonnes of toxic waste found its way to that Island and reacting to enact the Environmental Impact Assessment Act in 1988 and till date we are not able to integrate Environmental concerns in our Seven-point agenda and hope to be among the 20 world economies in 2020.
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) popularly called the Earth’s Summit, held in Rio in June 1992 was a landmark event for the global environment (ECOSYSTEM). It was a launching pad for a public/private sector partnership, which today recognises and acknowledges the inter-dependence of human growth and technological (industrial) development process, and the protection of the environment. This world partnership is founded on a tripartite framework based on: global consensus, political commitment at the highest level of government, corporate commitment at the highest level of management.
The United Nations Agenda 21, adopted by UNCED at Rio, addresses the current pressing problems of environment and development and aims to prepare the global community for new challenges in order to achieve the medium and long-term goals of sustainable development and protection of the environment.
The 6th Session of the Commission in Sustainable Development (CSD) held in 1998 focused among other issues on Industry and the protection of the Environment (ECOSYSTEM).
The commission recognised the potential, and thus the need for a mutually reinforcing relationship between social and industrial development through effective co-operation between the public and the private sector. Such bilateral relationships enhance effective and morally responsible industrialisation, which has the potential to promote directly or indirectly, a variety of social oriented environmentally friendly objectives such as employment creation, poverty alleviation and elimination, gender Equality, labour standards, enhanced access to education and greater opportunity to improve health care.
Are we realistic or deceiving ourselves? Can our leaders accept that we are wallowing in ignorance! Or the Nigerian nation is crafted to be a failed State! Industries are sited close to residential houses and other urban areas, thereby exposing nearby human population to great health risk from pollution. This distances us far way from meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), achieving Vision 20:20 and the Seven-point Agenda.
The environment component of the tripod of sustainability could not be isolated for us to be seen to be serious. It is a circus dance at the detriment of the masses.
Major disasters/catastrophic events occurred in the early seventies and eighties in developed countries as a result of industrial revolution that need to be mentioned here for note as they affected the ecosystem and human health. The 1984 leak from Union Carbide plant that left 3,000 people dead and 20,000 injured in Bhopal, India. The world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986 took place as a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded in the Ukrainian Republic of Soviet Union.
Mention must be made of the 1989 spill of 50 million liters of oil spill from Exxon Valdez super tanker into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, the grounding of the Super – Tanker Torrey Canyon on the Seven Stones Reef at the mouth of the English Channel in March 1967, with subsequent loss of its 117,000 ton cargo of Kuwait crude oil; the 220,000 ton AMOCO Cadiz oil spill the largest tanker spill- which occurred off the coast of Brittany in march in 1978; The Ixotoc-I, well-blow out in the Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico in June 1979.
During the three days of London’s “Great Smog of 1952”, some 4,000 people died as a result of lethal combination of air laden with particulates and SO2 from the wide spread burning of coal and a temperature eviction cause by anticyclone conditions over the city
The concept of sustainable development proposed in 1987 to steer our common future (Brundtland Report) addresses the socio-economic aspects as well as the environmental impacts of our global production and consumption patterns. Cleaner production is extensively referred to in Agenda 21, which emphatically addresses sustainable consumption.
The resource extraction, use products and services and discarded products also exert environmental pressure on the planet. Both are inextricably related way-points on the road to sustainable development.
Africa is rich in mineral resources including 22 per cent of non-middle Eastern Oil reserves. Relies on 80 per cent primary commodities for its export earnings (EIA 2000, UN 2001). Outside the Northern Africa sub-region and South Africa, this region has relatively low technology use and low capacity. Africa’s overall environmental impact so far has been fairly low. The informal sector plays a large role.
Minerals such as Bauxite, Chromite, Cobalt, Diamonds, Gold, Manganese, Platinum group metals, Titanium and Zirconium and hydrocarbons (oil and gas) contribute large shares of many African countries GDP. Their exploitation puts considerable pressure on the environment, through resource depletion, pollutant emissions, acid drainage, heavy metal contamination and salinity.
Africa is second largest region after Asia-Pacific two thirds of land is arid or semi-arid. Main issues related to land are degradation and desertification. Others include soil contamination and loss of natural habitats to farming or settlement.
There are demands on the land to produce cash crops for export. By 1999 about 32 per cent suitable lands in Africa was cultivated. Cereal production almost doubled between 1975 and 1999.
Paradoxically, the number of undernourished people in Africa has doubled since 1970. 25 per cent of Africa’s land is vulnerable to water erosion and 22 per cent to wind erosion. Erosion has increased siltation rates in reservoirs and rivers. Also in the increase are flood risks in rivers and estuaries. For example in Sudan siltation of the Blue Nile has reduced the capacity of the Roseires reservoir (which generates 80 per cent of country’s electricity by 46 per cent) by 30 years. African cities account for 10 percent per cent of the world’s total urban population. Africa’s urban growth rate is among world’s highest. At a forecast of 3.5 per cent per year yearly rate by 2015, will exceed 17 per cent
The amount of solid waste generated in urban areas is outstripping the capacity to collect, treat and dispose of it. In the Comoros, for example domestic waste is dumped directly on beaches; much of Kampala’s waste is dumped in Wetlands. Hazardous waste is often similarly disposed of. About two per cent of waste generated in Africa is recovered or recycled. The most commonly recycled materials are paper, textiles, glass, plastic and metal. Compositing is carried out to some extent in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
Fresh water resources
Average Africa’s yearly renewable water resources amount to 5720 m3/capita (World’s Average is 7600m3) There is an extreme uneven distribution of surface and groundwater. DRC is the wettest country with average annual internal renewable reservoirs of 935 km3. The driest Country, Mauritania has 0.4 km3. Groundwater contributes 15 per cent of Africa’s: Water resources, Northern and Southern Africa which depend on groundwater, risk water shortages, as water is extracted far more rapidly than it is recharged.
Africa is the home of the 28 per cent of the people in the world who do not have access to improved water supply. Coverage in rural areas is 45 per cent compared to 85 per cent in urban areas; 62 per cent of the regions population in 2000, had access to improved water supply compared to 57 per cent in 1990.
The share of the population with access to improved sanitation was 60 per cent in 2000, down slightly from 61 per cent in 1990. There was an average 84 per cent coverage of urban population compared to 45 per cent in rural areas.
Coastal and marine areas
Africa’s 40,000 km of coastline is characterised by diverse ecosystems and abundant natural resources, which provide both ecological benefits and economic opportunities.
Population pressure is causing widespread degradation and pollution of such resources. Another cause of concern is the possibility of sea level rise.
Direct threats include unsustainable commercial fishing, mining of sand dunes and clearing of mangroves. Indirect impacts include dams, increased fertiliser use and clearing of vegetation. Some 470 million tonnes of oil is shipped via the western Indian Ocean yearly. Over 100 million tonnes pass through the Red Sea alone. Port activities also pose threats. Effluents from fish processing, abattoirs and chemical and manufacturing industries are frequently discharged into the sea.
Climate variability is the single most significant atmospheric phenomenon in Africa. Anthropogenic air pollution is a problem in North and South Africa and in selected larger cities. Compared with other regions, Africa emits negligible amounts of anthropogenic air pollutants and GHG.
It contributes less than 3.5 per cent of Global CO2 emissions with South Africa accounting for almost 47 per cent of the regional total. Some countries in Northern Africa (where energy consumption increased by 44 per cent between 1980 and 1998) also contribute significantly.
Deterioration of air quality in North Africa Western Indian Ocean Islands and Southern Africa is mainly linked to burning of household fuel, plus vehicular and industrial emissions. Northern Africa’s industrial growth averaged 0.6 per cent a year in the period 1990-1998.
The natural resources of this region include fossil fuels, uranium, and metals, minerals such as mica and asbestos and hardwoods. It depends on wood for fuel and its highest annual rate of deforestation (1.2 per cent) (ESCAP and ADB 2000). Manufacturing is well developed with a significant high technology element.
Key land issues here are degradation (especially desertification but also erosion, compaction, acidification and insufficient depletion among others) land use change and soil contamination. Overgrazing, over-cropping and increase of inorganic fertilisers are contributing factors in Australia and Asia while problems in the Pacific Islands relate more to mining, logging, mono-cropping and alien species. Desertification affects over half the dry lands in Asia.
Urbanisation is put at a yearly rate of 2.4 per cent (2001-2015 estimates).
The level of urbanisation ranges from 7.1 per cent in Bhutan to 100 per cent in Singapore and Nauru. Much solid waste in the urban centres is either dumped or burned by waste generators. Collected waste is mainly disposed of in open trays, many of which are not properly operated. Singapore, Tokyo and most cities in Australia and New Zealand are having difficulty handling the increasing volumes of waste. Disposal and treatment of industrial, toxic and hazardous waste also causes serious problems in this region.
Despite significant investment during the last two decades, most countries in the region face urban water supply and sanitation deficits. India has the largest number of people without access compared to Afghanistan with lowest urban water supply of 19 per cent.
Water bodies in most cities of the region receive domestic sewage, industrial effluents, chemicals and solid waste. Recent data covering 94 per cent of Asian population suggest that only 48 per cent have sanitation coverage-the lowest share in the world regions. Rural areas ‘enjoy’ 31 per cent compared to 78 per cent in urban areas.
However, 81 per cent of the region’s population is provided with drinking water (75 per cent in rural and 93 per cent in urban areas). Almost two thirds (2/3) of world’s people without access to improved water live in Asia.
However, there are a number of success stories regarding water re-use and recycling in the regions industrialised countries, making use of approaches such as Cleaner Production, Environmental Management systems, ISO 14001, Environmental auditing and reporting, and industrial eco-zoning.
Coastal and marine areas
The last three decades have recorded depletion of coastal resources such as fisheries, mangroves and has been a subject of acute concern in the region. Mangrove clearance of shrimp culture has emerged as a major issue. Aquaculture has led to releases of nutrients, pathogens and potentially hazardous chemicals.
Air quality in the region for the past 30 years has seriously worsened as a result of rapid urbanisation and industrial growth. Air pollution levels in the region’s cities are among the worlds highest. Transport is a significant source of urban air pollution. Other sources include industry, power generation, and domestic burning of biomass and fuels such as charcoal.
Of the 15 cities in the World with the highest levels of Particulate matter, 12 are in Asia; of these cities, six also have the highest levels of atmospheric SO2. Teheran has recorded SO2 levels, four times the WHO guidelines while New Delhi has recorded 420 Mg/m3 for particulates.
High dependence on coal in China and India has made haze and acid rain critical regional issues in the past decade. Depletion of stratospheric ozone layer has also emerged as serious concern in the region. India and China are the largest producers and users of CFC’s. India-world’s second largest CFC producers and Fourth CO2 is the main anthropogenic GHG emitted in the region. Most comes from Industry.
Majority of the Countries in the region may be particularly vulnerable to climate change phenomena-sea level rise since most of their settlements and industries are in the coastal or lowland areas.
Population growth, poverty and poor governance are reflected in the pressures on natural resources and the decline in environmental indicators in Nigeria. Soil erosion and fertility, deforestation, water scarcity, water pollution, biodiversity loss, municipal and hazardous waste, and the impacts of oil and gas development are primary areas of concern. The rate of environmental degradation is particularly significant. Conditions are worsening, as these highlights indicate:
During the 1980s, the forest area decreased by one-third partly as a result of large scale agricultural land clearing schemes; 350,000-400,000 ha are deforested annually in Nigeria, a rate of about 3.5 per cent decrease yearly.
More than 60 per cent of the land area mapped in 1976/78 as dominantly trees/woodland/shrubs had changed to another land use by 1993/1995; three-quarters of this change was to agriculture; a similar trend occurred with areas dominantly shrubs and grasses-almost one-half had changed, mostly to agriculture;
Between 1976/78 and 1993/95, the area of gullies increased from 122 km2 to 18,517 km2; the area of sand dunes increased from 812 km2 to 4829 km2;
The total area in freshwater marsh/swamp categories decreased from 40,097 to 26,618 km2 (affected by lower levels in Lake Chad and general development of floodplain agriculture throughout the country); by 1990, the majority of freshwater marsh and swamps along the Niger, Benue and Hadejia rivers had all but disappeared;
Urban areas more than doubled from 2083 km2 to 5444 km2; the rate of urban growth in Nigeria is one of the world’s highest; in 1985, the urban population was about 30 per cent; it is now in the range of 42-50 per cent.
Nigeria is presently losing large areas to desertification; the Sahel is advancing southward at an estimated 1 km per year; Borno has experienced drought conditions for two (2) decades.
Water resource problems include serious issues of water scarcity flooding, invasive weeds, water pollution and habitat loss; for example Lake Chad is less than 10 per cent of its original size; irrigation practices have led to water logging and soil fertility damage.
Municipal solid waste heaps occur in major Nigerian cities, blocking roads, alleys, and pavements; waste and sewage disposal problems are particularly serious health concerns during the periods of flooding.
There are about 2,000 operating oil wells in the Niger Delta; gas flaring, oil spills and habit degradation are major concerns.
(CIDA- Environment Programmes Strategy for Development Co-operation with Nigeria – 2001-2005)
The loss of vegetation cover from deforestation and from drought has had direct impacts on soil erosion processes, gully formation, decreased groundwater levels and increased flooding. Land use practices, including aggressive agricultural land clearing and development programmes, have destabilised many watersheds, with increased runoff and soil loss. Pressures are especially severe in the arid zones, where a major, 30-year drought is anticipated in the next few years.
Extensive dam construction and irrigation development have had environmental impacts well beyond the project sites-changing hydrological regimes and ecosystems, reducing availability of water and nutrients downstream, and altering soils and water quality. Significant social impacts have occurred from dam construction and operations. Some of the flood control benefits of dams have been offset by increased peak run-off from deforestation and poor land management.
The continual pressures on forests, and especially the widespread transformation from high forest to Savanna vegetation, have reduced wildlife habitats and diversity of flora and fauna. Biodiversity concerns are particularly high in mangrove forests of the Niger Delta and the Cross River forests bordering Cameroon where several endemic species of primates, including the Nigerian gorilla, are at risk from habitat destruction.
Wastes are a conspicuous part of urban Nigeria-solid waste heaps, random hazardous waste disposal, open sewers, overflowing drains, etc, create public health concerns in most cities. Most towns and cities have no sanitary landfills, and very poor waste disposal practices. Groundwater and surface waters are heavily, contaminated with domestic and industrial pollutants.
Due primarily to gas flaring, Nigeria is a large contributor to global GHG emissions. It is also vulnerable to climate change because of the large number of rural poor who are dependent upon natural resources, the potential disruption to biological processes in the Niger Delta, and the already precarious state of desertification in the Northern regions.
The theme of the lecture
There are about 10,000 industries in Nigeria with different polluting potentials. About 70 per cent of the industries are located in Lagos, while about 80-90 per cent of all industries are located close to the coast because of the proximity to surface water resources for multifarious industrial uses, easy access to bring in imported machinery and raw materials through the ports while the latter also provides easy access for exporting manufactured goods (Osibanjo-2009).
Both the marine and freshwater ecosystems suffer from effluent discharges from these industries. Other land based activities (LBA) like agricultural run-offs even garbage and dredged materials from untreated domestic wastes from homes are emptied into the marine and fresh water ecosystem. These unwholesome practices subject the oceans to pollution which through food chain affect humans indirectly or directly through bathing or tourism practices. Hazardous wastes from manufacturing and the oil and gas sector (e.g. in case of the petroleum industry drilling mud; formation water, sludge, dredged spoils etc).
These are disposed of in burrow pits or local dumps and landfills or improperly dumped in wetland surface waters. Our wetlands provide a veritable source of food security and poverty eradication/elimination portfolio.
Consequently, polluting them would pose a big burden and a serious threat to achieving the set MDGs and of course Vision 2020 and the Seven Point Agenda. They impair the health of the populace-Malaria, typhoid fever, Cholera, diarrhoea-water borne diseases as a result of poor sanitation.
The release and presence of harmful chemicals of concentration into the environment which appear to pose direct or indirectly a real threat to human health and the environment – furians and dioxins. Noise from industrial machines, turbines, generators, religious houses, music players is an aspect of the typology of industrial pollution. The eardrum has a tolerance limit expressed in decibels-where 130 decibels is the average pain threshold. Hot effluent from thermal power stations and manufacturing industries such as textile mills, heat from gas flaring in the oil and gas sector, heat from industrial furnaces and machines etc constitute thermal pollution which poses a big threat and burden on the ecosystems.
The spiral effect of GHG on the atmosphere lead to global warming which exacerbate deforestation, leading to erosion and desertification-poverty and sea level rise – leading to flooding, death and loss of property etc. Dust/particulate matter, soot, smoke from factory chimneys, open burning of refuse, gas flaring, indoor air pollution is pronounced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a major problem in Nigeria and other developing countries constituting a major threat and burden to the ecosystem.
The top eight polluting industries are steel works, food processing, tanneries, textile, pharmaceuticals, petroleum refineries and paints.
They are classified as high environmental and medium stressors. Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Onitsha, Nnewi, Aba, have been recorded as the most polluted cities in Nigeria. Less than 40 per cent of the population in Nigeria lives in urban areas, the rate is increasing however, because of unplanned urbanisation most cities suffer from acute problem of sewage and waste disposal pollution and several land degradation.
Only about 30-50 per cent of waste is collected where they exist. The remainder is dumped haphazardly on open plots and it creates health hazards, blocks drains and contributes to urban flooding. Lagos, Ibadan, Aba, Warri, Benin, Uyo, Maiduguri experience yearly flooding. Kubwa in Abuja has its worst flood so far in August 2009 and it brought untold hardship to the citizens and the terrestrial ecosystem.
During oil exploration and exploitation, drill cuttings, drilling mud, and accidental discharge of crude petroleum result in serious land degradation in the oil producing areas of Niger Delta. Oil spills too are common and result in damage to lakes, rivers, marine life, plants and defilement of natural beauty spots, such as natural beaches (Dr. I.A. Jaiyeoba; Africa Atlases, 2002). Several lives were lost during the Ikeja Army Cantonment bomb blast that left unsuspecting workers victims as a result of suffocation where they jumped into the adjacent canal filled with discharged untreated effluent from the adjoining industries resulting in eutrophication of the canal and the consequent anoxia.
These unwholesome practices subject our oceans, freshwater, canals, wetlands and land to serious pollution and a worrisome threat to sustainable development. More than 90 per cent of industries do not install pollution abatement equipment and where such facilities exist, most of them are grossly inadequate to cope with the volume of waste generated or are not functional and might have broken down for a long while without repairs.
Arising from this, raw or partially treated industrial effluent containing hazardous substances are discharged continuously (non-compliance with national/international effluent discharge standards) into nearby gutters or drains which end up in streams, rivers and wetlands thereby leading to gross pollution of the ecosystem (LBA) Land Based Activities.
In January 1998, a large but undetermined quantity of crude oil spilled from Exxon Mobil’s Idoho well in the offshore Niger delta. The spillage contaminated an extensive tract of Nigeria’s coastline and marine waters. Detailed environmental analysis of the spills shows that complex communities of large numbers of highly specialised species are less tolerant of pollution than more physically stressed and controlled communities because the component species have narrower physiological tolerances.
Also, the susceptibility of one species may also vary depending on the stage in its life cycle and related factors, such as season of the year. For example, Idoho spill studies indicate that larval or juvenile stages of marine organisms are less tolerant than adults in oil polluted waters. This is explained by the toxicity of Nigerian crude, Forcados Blend (FB), Bonny Light (BL) and Bonny Medium (BM).
Nigerian crude oil appears to be highly toxic compared to oils from elsewhere. Following the spills, catch statistics recorded for fishes were lower than values reported for the same species elsewhere. It was also noted that levels of heavy metals recorded in some of the fishes were higher than the allowable limits, indicating some measure of contamination.
Impact on coastal ecosystem and vegetation
Post-Idoho spill studies showed negative impacts on the coastal flora, which ranged from partial defoliation of various mangrove species, such as Rhizophora racemosa and Avicennia germinans to high mortality of these species in locations, which span the spill zone.
It is to be further noted that a peculiar problem manifests in the Nigerian coastal swamps where the local mangrove species are stressed by oil pollution. In the near shore coastal swamps the double tragedy of the loss of beneficial local mangrove species is the large-scale colonisation of the bare environment by Nypa Palm (Nypa Frusticans) an alien invasive species that was brought into Oron in 1906 from Singapore with the belief that it could stabilise the shoreline.
Now it presents several environmental and ecological problems along the entire Niger Delta coastline. Its environmental problems include:
- Invasion of the Nigerian coastline.
- Displacement of the indigenous mangrove.
- Clogging of navigational routes.
- Impacting heavily on fisheries
- Wrecking havoc on coastal communities.
The oil and gas industry with its downstream and upstream operation has profound effect on the ecosystem of the Nigerian nation. I have chosen to deliberate a bit on this as it provides a source of energy to manufacturing, other industries and the Nigerian populace. There are about 2,000 oil wells with four refineries in the country. Two are located in Port-Harcourt while the others are in Warri and Kaduna.
It is often not realised that as dominant as the oil is in Nigeria’s economic calculus, the industry does not currently employ much more than 10,000 Nigerians. The challenge is how to build organic linkages between the oil economy and the real sectors of agriculture and manufacturing, which are the drivers of industrial development. In consideration of the nature of operations in the oil and gas industry we recognise today a growing list of major and pressing environmental issues that pose a burden to our ecosystem and a threat to Vision 20: 2020 and the Seven-point agenda.
We note with dissatisfaction the problem of impacts on land, water, and air, through pollution through:
Gas emission and flaring – water vapour, CO2, CH4, NOx
Solid and hazardous water discharge
Others are encroachment, interference, damage, displacement or conflict. These bear directly on the socio-economic life of host or neighborhood communities. The combined manifestation of these impacts on the ecosystem is quite enormous and significant.
For example, oil spillage at Ejema-Ebubu crude oil spill on land by Shell Petroleum Development Company, in Ogoniland, Rivers State in 1970 and Exxon – Mobil Idoho well crude oil spill in marine waters offshore Akwa Ibom in 1998.
10.0 Case Scenario 2:
10.1 The Ejema-Ebubu Oil Spill by SPDC – 1970 on Land
In 1970, the Agbada – Bonu trunk pipeline of the Shell Petroleum Development Company burst and a large, but unknown quantity of crude oil spilled into about 5 km2 of farmland and freshwater swamps of the Niger delta along one of seasonal distributaries of the Bonny River. The main zone of the impact is the Ejema-Ebubu area of Ogoniland in Rivers State of Nigeria. Following local unresolved issues, no formal cleaning of the spillage has been carried out to date.
I brought in a Thermal Desorption Unit from US to the fenced area and demonstrated the applicability of such innovation to clean the site when SPDC proffered no solution for years. That is one of the issues that late Ken Saro Wiwa complained about, that led to his brutal murder.
We planted maize on a part of the treated and reclaimed soil. But it is on a sad note that the inhabitants of the area had refused to allow this demonstration equipment to be taken out of the area even when they knew it did not come from SPDC and the proactive action was from me and concerned stakeholders, just to prove a point. Almost 40 years after the spillage, extended degraded remnants of the spill are randomly distributed within farmlands and freshwater swamps.
Stratigraphic soil analysis reveals that the depth of soil soaked by crude oil is in excess of 2.5 metres. Detailed soil studies Amajor 1985 indicate a near source surficial layer of hard
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