Employees of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Nigeria cause oil spills to enable them to make money from cleanups, a new report by Milieudefensie and Friends of the Earth Nigeria, verified by an independent journalist, has said.
A statement issued by Head of Yenagoa Office of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) in Bayelsa State, Alagoa Morris, revealed that Shell organises the oil spill cleanups in such a way that they generate income for the local population and that the oil giant was aware of the development, but was doing nothing about it.
Milieudefensie said: “Shell employees are involved in the oil spills in Nigeria. This directly contradicts the picture that Shell paints, in which it places the responsibility for the spills on rebels and saboteurs.
“Residents of Ikarama in the Niger Delta not only confirm that Shell employees hire residents to perpetrate spills, but also claim that they have approached everyone in the community. Most people are sensitive to the issue because their fields and fishponds are often too polluted by oil to earn a living.”
A representative of the Ikarama community pointed out that “someone who is hungry is someone who easily consents.”
“Shell employees, residents, and cleanup companies are working together. The employee points out where and when a spill occurs. Young people usually perpetrate spills. Then a Shell employee hires a cleanup company from among the perpetrator’s acquaintances and afterward, they divide the profit among themselves. At least 30 oil spills have been recorded in the Ikarama area in the past 10 years,” the statement added.
The report described several key moments that prove that Shell was aware of the practices and, should, therefore, be Shell’s responsibility to protect the pipelines from the spills and also arrange for their cleanup.
Director, Friends of the Earth Netherlands, Donald Pols, said: ‘Shell always claims global warming, earthquakes in Groningen and oil spills in Nigeria were not its responsibility. The big question now is how many of the countless oil spills were caused by Shell employees and why Shell management continues to blame others.”
The recommendations of the report highlight how effective the protection of the pipelines by young people has been in the past. Friends of the Earth Netherlands, also wants Shell to compensate the host community for the pollution they had caused.
Acting Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Chima Williams, said: “These disturbing findings have again confirmed what we have long suspected. Shell must own up to the destruction of the local community and made to pay for its deliberate infractions.”
Milieudefensie and Friends of the Earth Nigeria ERA have been busy for some time, trying to persuade Shell to take responsibility for the world’s largest oil disaster. Milieudefensie sued Shell in 2008 for the oil pollution in Nigeria, in the first case involving a Dutch corporation being held accountable for environmental pollution in a foreign country. After 12 years, the verdict of the appeal will be announced on January 29, 2021, at 11:00 a.m.
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