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Posts tagged "niger delta"

Poison Fire (2008)

Documentary on the devastating effects of the continuous oil spills, environmental pollution and community neglect in the Niger Delta region.

There have been 5, 000 major oil spills in the Delta 50 years, according to the film.

See poisonfire.org for more details on the film.

Shell attacked over four-year delay in Niger oil spill clean-up

Two large crude oil spills from Shell pipelines in the Niger delta four years ago have still not been cleaned up by the company despite an outcry by the UN, Amnesty International and the Nigerian government about pollution in the area.

Shell, which made £19.1bn profit last year, accepted responsiblity and pledged to fully restore the damage done by spills from its rusting pipelines near the Ogoni village of Bodo in 2008.

But an assessment has found only small pilot schemes were started and the most contaminated areas around Bodo and the Gokana district of Ogoniland remain untouched. The impoverished Ogoni fishing and farming communities say they still cannot return to work and have received no compensation. They have accused Shell of applying different standards to clean-ups in Nigeria compared with the rest of the world.

"A comprehensive clean-up is yet to get under way and the creeks remain extremely polluted," said Martyn Day of the London-based law firm Leigh Day, which represents the 11,000 affected villagers. Day has just returned from the delta, where he was part of a team assessing the clean-up. "Next to nothing has happened and where work has commenced it has been totally amateurish."

Shell said it had started pilot clean-up schemes in five affected areas, but claimed it had been refused access to several other polluted sites. It said “good progress” had been made, adding that the vast majority of oil spilt in the Bodo area was the result of criminal activity including theft, sabotage and illegal oil refining by villagers.

A spokesman for the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria said: “SPDC is committed to cleaning up all spills, no matter what the cause, from its facilities. The real tragedy of the Niger delta is the widespread and continual criminal activity, including sabotage, theft and illegal refining, that leads to the vast majority of oil being spilled. It is this criminality which blights the Niger delta and which all organisations with an interest in Nigeria’s future should focus their efforts on highlighting and dealing with.”

Amnesty International disputed Shell’s reason for delaying the clean-up. Audrey Gaughran, interim Africa programme director, said: “Shell says the oil pollution visible at Bodo today is due to sabotage, and not the two major spills of 2008, which it accepts were due to leaks in its pipeline. But there is no evidence to support Shell’s statement.

"Amnesty International has shared with Shell all of our evidence – including video footage, photos, satellite images taken over relevant time periods. By contrast, although we have asked Shell for evidence to support their claim of sabotage, they have never responded."

Last year Ogoni chiefs demanded Shell put in “a serious level” of resources and appoint an internationally known clean-up company to oversee the pro-cess. But Shell has said it would use its own contractors and has proposed to phase in the clean-up over several years. It has now appointed its own monitor.

Day said: “Shell seems to be trying to undertake the clean-up on the cheap which will mean the people will be left with the aftermath for generations.”

Best practice requires all oil recovered to be stored in temporary facilities until it can be disposed of properly. Instead, surface oil has been poured into pits and covered with sand. Local communities say Shell’s contractors have so far failed in a number of respects including cleaning mangrove forests and refusing to employ local labour. They say buried polluted soil next to the shoreline is already leaking.

Following a three-year peer-reviewed study funded by Shell, the UN environment programme reported last year that oil pollution on the delta was worse than expected. It urged a $1bn clean-up of the whole region.

Shell has still not agreed financial compensation for the 11,000 people affected.


Picture of the Igbo maiden mask called AGBHOGHO MMANWU

Made in Niger Delta, circa 1880

The British Museum

(via 37thstate)

Lawyers representing a Nigerian fishing community are taking the oil firm Shell to court in London over alleged unpaid compensation for recent oil spills.

Shell has accepted responsibility for the spillage of about 4,000 barrels in Ogoniland in the Niger Delta.

But Bodo community representatives say they are having to resort to legal action after negotiations broke down.

The head of Shell Nigeria said that with different lawyers representing claimants it was difficult to resolve.

Nigeria is one of the world’s major oil producers, but the oil-producing Niger Delta region remains one of the country’s poorest and least developed regions.

The Ogoni people have long complained about the environmental damage to their communities, but they say they have mostly been ignored.

'Delta complexities'

The High Court case is said to be the first time Shell has faced claims in the UK from the developing world for environmental damage, the BBC’s world affairs correspondent Peter Biles reports.

When Shell accepted responsibility for the oil spills, which happened in 2008 and one of which continued into 2009, it said they had been caused by operational failures.

The company promised it would pay compensation according to Nigerian law and would clean up the oil and restore the land.

Martyn Day, of the solicitors Leigh Day, who is representing the Bodos, said the spills had devastated a once-thriving fishing community of some 50,000 people.

"I’ve been around Bodo on a number of occasions and you just have to walk round, it looks like a World War I scene, where the oil has totally destroyed much of the local environment and the fish, which particularly thrive in the mangroves, have basically disappeared from the area," he told the BBC’s Today programme.

Shell has argued that much more oil has been spilt as a result of illegal activity in the Niger Delta, such as sabotage and theft.

Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of the the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), said it was important to understand “the complexities of the Niger Delta” when dealing with these compensation payments.

"There are a lot of people who’ve claimed to be impacted and a lot of intra-communal strife which is making it difficult for anyone to have meaningful negotiations with different lawyers claiming to represent them," he told the BBC.

"We did do everything possible to make sure that we pay compensation to the affected communities, but we also have to make sure that this compensation is paid to the right people. The trouble is you cannot do that as long as [different] lawyers are representing them."

Shell would “not give up” trying to identify those who should be compensated, Mr Sunmonu said.

Last year, a UN environmental assessment of Ogoniland said the region would take 30 years to recover fully from the damage caused by years of oil spills.

The issue of the environmental damage in Ogoniland was highlighted by the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed in 1995 by Nigeria’s military government, sparking international condemnation.

The campaign forced Shell to stop pumping oil out of Ogoniland but it continues to operate pipelines in the region.