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Nigeria, Ogoniland: communities demand oil pollution clean-up and compensation

Published on: 27/12/2011

Residents of Ogoniland in Rivers State, Nigeria, are demanding compensation from Royal Dutch Shell and clean-up of the oil that has polluted water sources and destroyed their livelihoods.

A UNEP study [1] published in August 2011, concluded that the environmental restoration of Ogoniland could take 25 to 30 years and would require an initial investment of US$ 1 billion contributed by the oil industry and the Government.

Communities relying on polluted wells should immediately be provided with adequate sources of drinking water, the UNEP study said. However, three months after the release of the study, only two of the ten communities where drinking water was contaminated had been provided with safe water, claimed Chris Newsom of Stakeholder Democracy Network.

In 2008, two consecutive oils spills, which were caused by faults in the Trans-Niger pipeline, resulted in thousands of barrels of oil polluting the land and creek surrounding Bodo, a town of some 69,000 people. Royal Dutch Shell has now accepted responsibility for these spills after the Bodo community took them to court in the UK. In a separate US lawsuit, local tribal leaders are suing Shell for US$ 1 billion on behalf of the people of Ogale in Eleme local government area, where UNEP found the most serious groundwater contamination.  The US lawsuit is backed up by a joint report [2] published by Amnesty International and the Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) demanding that Shell must commit to pay an initial US$1 billion to begin the clean-up of pollution caused by oil spills in the Niger Delta.

 

[1] UNEP, 2011. Environmental assessment of Ogoniland. Nairobi: United Nations Environment Programme. Available at: <http://postconflict.unep.ch/publications/OEA/UNEP_OEA.pdf> [Accessed 20 December 2011].

[2] Amnesty International and CEHRD, 2011. The true tragedy: delays and failures in tackling oil spills in the Niger Delta. (Demand dignity). London: Amnesty International. Available at: <http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR44/018/2011/en > [Accessed 20 December 2011].

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