Amnesty tackles Shell, govt over Ogoniland cleanup, others

shellTHE lingering challenge of cleaning up the massive oil spill in Ogoniland may have again pitched Amnesty International (AI) against Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Specifically, AI and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) in a new report published yesterday said that the multinational oil company lied when it claimed it had cleaned up heavily polluted areas of the Niger Delta.

Meanwhile, spokesperson for the oil major, Precious Okolobo, has said the SPDC JV was committed to cleaning up all spills, adding that it was crucial to put an end to the widespread theft and illegal refining of crude oil, which continue to cause new spills and impact on the environment.

The report, obtained by The Guardian yesterday, was published to mark the 20th anniversary of the execution, on 10 November 1995, of the environmental activist and writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa, who campaigned tirelessly against the damage caused by the oil industry in the Niger Delta region.

Business and Human Rights Researcher at AI, Mark Dummett said: “By inadequately cleaning up the pollution from its pipelines and wells, Shell is leaving thousands of women, men and children exposed to contaminated land, water and air, in some cases for years or even decades.

“Oil spills have a devastating impact on the fields, forests and fisheries that the people of the Niger Delta depend on for their food and livelihood. Anyone who visits these spill sites can see and smell for themselves how the pollution has spread across the land,” he stated.

The report also documented the failure of the Federal Government to regulate the oil industry and accused the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) of under-capacity to work efficiently.

According to CEHRD’s Director of Programmes, Stevyn Obodoekwe: “As people in Nigeria and around the world remember Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight other Ogoni leaders who were executed in 1995, Shell and the government of Nigeria cannot ignore the terrible legacy of the oil industry in the Niger Delta. For many people of the region, oil has brought nothing but misery.

“The quality of life of people surrounded by oil fumes, oil encrusted soil and rivers awash with crude oil is appalling, and has been for decades.”

To Okolobo: “Implementation of the UNEP report is part of a wider programme of remediation, pipeline protection, community engagement and social investment activities being undertaken by the SPDC JV with its government, community and civil society partners in Ogoniland. These include grassroots campaigning on the health and environmental impacts of crude oil theft and illegal refining in all four local government areas of Ogoniland; implementation of alternative livelihood programmes, including an agricultural entrepreneurialism scheme focused on Ogoni youths and technical support to the Eleme water project, which is now administered by the Rivers State Government.

“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. As the UNEP report stated, it is crucial to put an end to the widespread theft and illegal refining of crude oil, which continue to cause new spills and impact on the environment.

Ensuring long-term sustainability remains a challenge that will require coordinated and collaborative action from all stakeholders,” he added.

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