John Vidal of the Guardian writes of an oil spill in Nigeria a few years ago, touring the disaster:
Forest and farmland were now covered in a sheen of greasy oil. Drinking wells were polluted and people were distraught. No one knew how much oil had leaked. "We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots," said Chief Promise, village leader of Otuegwe and our guide. "This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months."
In fact, in Nigeria it happens all the time, dumping far more oil than the Deepwater Horizon has. Every single year. The WWF estimates that 1,500,000 tonnes have been spilled, more than 50 Exxon Valdez tankerloads. But hey, it is over there, not here,
Elaine Gilligan via Shell Guilty
The scale of the pollution is mind-boggling. The government's national oil spill detection and response agency (Nosdra) says that between 1976 and 1996 alone, more than 2.4m barrels contaminated the environment.....With 606 oilfields, the Niger delta supplies 40% of all the crude the United States imports and is the world capital of oil pollution. Life expectancy in its rural communities, half of which have no access to clean water, has fallen to little more than 40 years over the past two generations. Locals blame the oil that pollutes their land and can scarcely believe the contrast with the steps taken by BP and the US government to try to stop the Gulf oil leak and to protect the Louisiana shoreline from pollution.
You should read Peter Maass's book Crude World, but you just need to read the chapter titles to learn about the oil business; they are Scarcity, Plunder, Rot, Contamination, Fear, Greed, Desire, Alienation, Empire and Mirage.
There is nothing new or surprising in the current disaster; it is happening all over the world. The only difference here is that it is American soil being fouled, and we are learning the real price of our addiction, that much of the world has been paying for years.
More in the Guardian: Nigeria's agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it
John Vidal is a terrific writer. Other posts referring to him:
The 7,000km Journey That Links Amazon Destruction To McDonald's Fast Food
The Green Scare and Civil Liberties