Amnesty Urges Shell to Start Cleaning Up Decades of Oil Spill Damage in Nigeria

Sosialistisk Ungdom - SU/CC BY 1.0

Today marks 16 years since Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed for speaking out against the environmental and human rights abuses taking place in the Niger Delta's oil-rich Ogoniland.

Amnesty International said today that the situation in the region is more dire now than it was then, and that Royal Dutch Shell has failed to clean up two oil spills in the Delta that have destroyed the livelihoods of 69,000 people by poisoning their fisheries and farmland.

UNEP has estimated that it would take up to 30 years and $1 billion to clean up the damage in Ogoniland. Amnesty is calling on Shell to start paying up. It wants an independent fund to be established that would pay for the clean-up efforts.

The UNEP report, released this summer, was produced after a three-year investigation. The Guardian reported the highlights:

  • Heavy contamination of land and underground water courses, sometimes more than 40 years after oil was spilled.
  • Community drinking water with dangerous concentrations of benzene and other pollutants.
  • Soil contamination more than five metres deep in many areas studied.
  • Most of the spill sites oil firms claimed to have cleaned still highly contaminated.
  • Evidence of oil firms dumping contaminated soil in unlined pits.
  • Water coated with hydrocarbons more than 1,000 times the level allowed by Nigerian drinking water standards.
  • Failure by Shell and others to meet minimum Nigerian or own standards.

See Amnesty International's Social Media Action Centre to learn more about the issue and actions it is asking people to take.

Tags: Nigeria | Oil | Oil Spill