"The environment has long been a factor in violent conflict in South Sudan, especially with respect to control over oil. The first oil was discovered in 1999, and by 2007, hydrocarbons accounted for over 95 percent of Sudan’s income. South Sudan became independent in 2011 after years of war with the Sudanese government in Khartoum, intensified by local conflicts over access to oil-rich border areas. But beyond conflict, South Sudanese communities have also been ringing the alarm bell about pollution and health hazards caused by the oil industry.
Weak or completely absent regulations affected environmental conditions prior to independence. Waste water was not processed and drilling chemicals were disposed of in unprotected areas. Indirect environmental effects such as deforestation, poaching, and looting added to the misery. Though the full findings of their research have yet to be published, a report in March by the German NGO, Sign of Hope, estimated that 180,000 people face life-threatening risks from oil-related water pollution. Heavy metals, from leaking pipelines and refineries and damage from fighting, have leaked into the groundwater."