Nearly 10 years after a clean-up was urged for areas polluted by Shell and other oil companies in the Niger Delta, work has begun on only 11% of planned sites while vast areas remain heavily contaminated, according to a new investigation by Friends of the Earth Europe, Amnesty International, ERA and Milieudefensie.
In 2011 the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report documenting the devastating impact of the oil industry in Ogoniland, and set out urgent recommendations for clean-up. But the new investigation highlights that “emergency measures” proposed by UNEP have not been properly implemented and that the billion-dollar clean-up project launched by the Nigerian government in 2016 has been ineffective.
Over five decades, oil and gas extraction have caused large-scale, continued contamination of the water and soil in Ogoni communities. The continued and systematic failure of oil companies and government to clean up have left hundreds of thousands of Ogoni people facing serious health risks, struggling to access safe drinking water, and unable to earn a living.
Numerous conflicts of interest around Shell have been revealed involving the management of the clean-up agency, HYPREP, and the Nigerian government.
Godwin Ojo, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria said:
“After nine years of promises without proper action and decades of pollution, the people of Ogoniland are not only sick of dirty drinking water, oil-contaminated fish and toxic fumes. They are sick of waiting for justice, they are dying by the day. The Nigerian government should acknowledge this project has been a failure and reinvigorate HYPREP with technical skills and strategic thinking, fully involving the community.”
Colin Roche, Friends of the Earth Europe said:
“Nine years on, there is still no clean-up, no ‘emergency’ health and water measures, no transparency and no accountability. Without urgent action there will be no justice. While oil companies like Shell spend millions greenwashing their image, tens of thousands of people continue to suffer from their pollution and negligence. European governments like the UK, the Netherlands, France and Italy must act to support a truly effective clean-up and ensure these companies are held accountable for the devastating pollution of the Niger Delta.”
Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International Nigeria said:
“The discovery of oil in Ogoniland has brought huge suffering for its people. Over many years we have documented how Shell has failed to clean up contamination from spills and it’s a scandal that this has not yet happened. The pollution is leading to serious human rights impacts – on people’s health and ability to access food and clean water. Shell must not get away with this - we will continue to fight until every last trace of oil is removed from Ogoniland.”
Key findings of the report include:
The organisations demand a rapid clean-up and in particular
that the Nigerian government
that European governments home to oil companies operating in the Niger Delta
This year, Shell is facing a series of European court battles over its business in Nigeria.