Shell in the Niger Delta: the endless wait for clean-up

Photo from Sum of Us: Fighting for people over profits.

A team of assessors from the U.K. has just returned from a fact-finding mission to the Niger Delta and has slammed Shell for failing to clean-up pollution resulting from two 2008 spills. “Next to nothing has happened and where work has commenced it has been totally amateurish,” said said Martyn Day of the London-based law firm Leigh Day, speaking to John Vidal, environment editor at The Guardian.

You can read the article, Shell attacked over four-year delay in Niger Delta oil spill clean-up, for more details on Shell’s failure to get serious about cleaning up the extensive damage from the spills.

This is merely the latest in a series of damning critiques of Shell’s failure to clean up its pollution. Shell initially denied responsibility for the spills and when the company did accept responsibility it “dramatically underestimated the quantities” of oil spilled.

Shell continues to claim that the company wants to clean-up, but is thwarted by sabotage. Amnesty International has recently challenged Shell’s claims: “The investigation process into oil spills in the Niger Delta has been challenged today by Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), as inconsistencies in Shell’s claims about sabotage were revealed. Experts have examined evidence from the latest oil spill from Shell’s poorly maintained pipelines in the Bodo creek area and confirmed that it strongly indicates that the leak is due to corrosion of the pipeline. However, Shell appears to be ignoring the evidence of corrosion.”

Vidal’s article also notes that Shell will use its own contractors for clean-up and monitor those operations itself.

Shell will not be shamed into action. As long as the company is able to operate with impunity it’s unlikely anything will change.


A reminder that on October 1st, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court will reconsider Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum (Shell Oil), a case which will determine whether corporations complicit in human rights abuses overseas can be sued in U.S. courts. Read more here: Too Big to Punish?




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