Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, CEHRD has accused Shell for failing to fulfil its legal obligations to clear up oil spills that it has caused in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region.
In a new report published on Tuesday, titled “Clean it up: Shell’s false claims about oil
spills in the Niger Delta”, documents ongoing contamination at four oil spill sites that Shell said it had cleaned up years ago.
AI said its investigation found visible pollution at sites Shell claimed it had cleaned.
“The Niger Delta is the biggest oil-producing region in Africa. The largest international oil company there is Shell. It operates around 50 oil fields and 5,000 km of pipelines, much of them ageing and poorly-maintained. The oil giant’s own figures admit to 1,693 oil spills since 2007, though the real number is probably higher,” AI said in a statement.
According to AI, its investigation at four of the spill sites UNEP identified as highly polluted in 2011, revealed all four remain visibly contaminated even though Shell says it has cleaned them. “The investigation demonstrates this is due to inadequate clean-up, and not new oil spills,” AI stated.
“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.
“The investigation shows Shell has not addressed problems with its entire approach to cleaning up oil pollution in Nigeria, including how it trains and oversees the local
contractors that actually conduct the work.”
The human rights organization called on Shell to change its approach to the way in which it cleans up after oil spills and urged the government to publish detailed information relating to such operations.
A spokesman for Shell’s Nigerian unit, Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, said it was difficult to respond to the allegations without having seen the report.
“SPDC JV is committed to cleaning up all spills from its facilities, irrespective of cause. This is equally the case in Ogoniland, despite the fact that we ceased producing oil and gas there in 1993,” said spokesman, Bamidele Odugbesan.
Amnesty said the report was published to mark the 20th anniversary of the execution of the environmental activist and writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa who campaigned relentlessly against damage caused to the Ogoni area of Rivers State, and was executed by the Sani Abacha junta on November 10, 1995.

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