- Title: NIGERIA: Shell and Nigeria government urged to start $1 bln clean up
- Date: 10th November 2011
- Summary: SLATE INFORMATION
- Embargoed: 25th November 2011 12:00
- Location: Nigeria, Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Environment,Energy
- Reuters ID: LVA89SYPIZMHRZ58PTGEUDY144LE
- Story Text: Dozens of protesters from Ogoniland -- an area in the Niger Delta that was the subject of a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report critical of both Royal Dutch Shell and the Nigerian government for contributing to 50 years of pollution, took to the streets of Port Harcourt on Monday (November 7) to push for action against oil spills.
Shell's failure to mop up two oil spills in the Niger Delta has caused huge suffering to locals whose fisheries and farmland were poisoned, and it must pay 1 billion US dollars to start cleaning up the region, Amnesty International said on Thursday (November 10).
A spokesman for Shell said the company had already acknowledged the two oil spills and started cleaning up, adding that oil theft was responsible for most spills in the Delta.
Nigerian authorities said the two spills in 2008 in Bodo, Ogoniland, had wrecked the livelihoods of 69,000 people.
Amnesty said the community's UK lawyers suggested the spill had leaked 4,000 barrels a day for 10 weeks, which would make it bigger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.
The UN report released in August said the region needs the world's largest ever oil clean-up that would cost an initial 1 billion US dollars and take 30 years.
Ogoniland leader Ledum Mitee said the government needed to take action immediately to save lives.
"Months have passed, in spite of unanimous resolutions on both houses of national assembly, nothing has happened and we thought that we need bring this back to the desk of the president, to say that look perhaps if he has forgotten that this is a matter that is very important, because each day our people stand the risk of loosing their lives for drinking poisoned water," he said.
Protesters delivered of a petition to government offices in Port Harcourt.
The report by Amnesty marked the 16th anniversary of the execution of environmental activist Ken Saro Wiwa by Nigerian authorities.
The celebrated writer was a founding member of a group fighting for the rights of the Ogoni people.
Since the early 1990's violence repeatedly erupted in the Delta, with the Ogoni accusing the oil company Shell of exploiting their ancestral lands.
A speedy military trial found Saro Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists guilty of murder -- and they were hanged on November 10, 1995.
Mitee said the protests on Monday were in honour of Saro Wiwa and others who died fighting for an end to exploitation of the Niger Delta.
Devastating oil spills are common in the vast network of labyrinthine creeks, swamps and rivers of the Niger Delta.
Shell stopped pumping oil from most of Ogoniland after a campaign led by Saro Wiwa but it continues to be the dominant player in the Niger Delta.
Oil is often spilled during sabotage attacks on facilities and bunkering -- tapping pipelines to steal crude. Shell officials said 150,000 barrels of oil are stolen each day in the Delta.
Amnesty said even if some spills were caused by theft it does not justify a failure to clean up - adding that all oil companies are required to do so, regardless of the cause.
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