Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, [email protected]
(New York) – Amnesty International said today if Shell oil is as concerned about the devastating consequences of a 2008 oil spill in the Niger Delta as it claims, it should do the right thing and to clean up the pollution and compensate the victims. The human rights organization said it was “disappointed” by Shell’s response on Facebook to worldwide pressure from human rights activists aimed at getting the oil giant to clean up its pollution around the Niger Delta town of Bodo and other spills from its pipes.
“If Shell is concerned about the destruction caused to livelihoods and communities in the Niger Delta, there is a very straightforward solution – pay to clean it up,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA. “Shell caused and compounded the problem and they are responsible for cleaning it up and adequately compensating the people of the Niger Delta whose lives have been devastated. Whether children growing up in a household or citizens learning to recycle, all of us are responsible for cleaning up after ourselves and Shell is no exception”
“This spill is a human rights catastrophe for the people of Bodo and surrounding areas,” said Nossel. “They can’t earn a living, food is scarcer and some prices are soaring – all due to the oil pollution. Shell says it is ‘concerned’ about the situation. If this is true, and it ought to be, then the company needs to clean up the mess.”
The Bodo spill has destroyed the livelihoods of many people who had depended on fisheries. The fish people catch are feared to be contaminated, as are some surrounding waterways.
Shell responded to the worldwide protests by thousands of activists in more than 14 countries – from Japan to Sweden, Senegal to the United States, as well as in Shell’s home countries of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The events and protests, including outside Shell’s offices and stations, are calling on Shell to clean up its act in the Niger Delta.
The oil spill, caused by a fault in a Shell pipeline, resulted in tens of thousands of barrels of oil polluting the land and creek surrounding Bodo, with a population of 69,000. Residents are struggling to make a living due to damage to fisheries and farmland, which has also caused food shortages and higher prices. Pollution from the spill has also affected the drinking water by damaging creeks and other waterways and wells.
On Monday, Amnesty International and the Nigerian non-governemental organization, the Centre for the Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), released information based on an independent assessment of the spill, which exposed how the oil giant dramatically under-estimated the quantities involved.
Shell’s official investigation report claims only 1,640 barrels of oil spilled in total. But based on the independent assessment, the total amount of oil spilled over a 72 day period is between 103,000 barrels and 311,000 barrels.
“The volume of oil spilled at Bodo was more than 60 times the volume Shell has repeatedly claimed leaked,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.
More than three years after the Bodo oil spill, Shell has yet to conduct a proper clean up or to pay any official compensation to the affected communities. After years of trying to seek justice in Nigeria the people of Bodo have now taken their claim to the U.K. courts.
In August 2011, following its landmark assessment of oil contamination in Ogoniland, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) identifiedas the start-up amount needed to establish an independent fund to clean up the pollution.
In 2009 Amnesty International and CEHRD published a detailed report on the two Bodo oil spills. “The True Tragedy: Delays and failures in tackling oil spills in the Niger Delta is available at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/the-true-tragedy-delays-and-failures-in-tackling-oil-spills-in-the-niger-delta