- Visible oil found at spill from 45 years ago
Claims by oil giant Shell that it has cleaned up heavily-polluted areas of the Niger Delta in Nigeria are blatantly false, Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) said in a new report published today (3 November).
The Niger Delta is the biggest oil-producing region in Africa and the 38-page report, Clean it up: Shell’s false claims about oil spills in the Niger Delta, reveals that there is still contamination at four oil spill sites that Shell said it had cleaned up years ago.
At one of the locations, Shell’s Bomu Well 11, researchers found blackened soil and layers of oil on the water, 45 years after an oil spill took place – even though Shell claims to have cleaned it up twice, in 1975 and 2012. At other sites, certified as cleaned by the Nigerian regulator, researchers found soil and water contaminated by oil close to where people lived and farmed.
Amnesty’s report also documents the failure of the Nigerian government to regulate the oil industry. Its watchdog, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) is under-resourced and has been certifying as clean areas that are visibly polluted with crude oil.
The report is being published to mark the 20th anniversary of the execution, on 10 November, of the environmental activist and writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa, who campaigned tirelessly against the pollution caused by the oil industry in the Niger Delta.
Mark Dummett, Business and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International, said:
“Anyone who visits these spill sites can see and smell for themselves how the pollution has spread across the land.
“Shell says theft is to blame for oil spills, but even if that were true it would not excuse the company’s consistent failure to clean up oil pollution. Shell’s blame-game can no longer deflect attention from its broken promises and neglected infrastructure.
“As long as oil companies fail to live up to their commitments, the Niger Delta will remain a cautionary tale of communities promised prosperity, but left with blighted, devastated lands.”