This report by Platform and Friends of Earth Europe, Amnesty International, Environmental Rights Action and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) charts the systemic failure of the Nigerian Government and Shell to clean up horrendous oil pollution in the Niger Delta despite a major UN study 3 years ago.
The UN Environment Programme published a scientific study on the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta in 2011 exposing extensive oil pollution, severe health risks for the population – including previously unacknowledged pollution of drinking water – and fundamental failures in Shell’s processes for cleaning up oil spills.
The UN study, conducted at the request of the Nigerian government and paid for by Shell, exposed the serious failure of the Nigerian government to regulate and control companies like Shell. The report also revealed Shell’s systemic failure to address oil spills going back many years. The UN described how sites that Shell claimed were cleaned up were found by UN experts to be still polluted.
Since the 2011 UN study, Shell has defended, and continues to use, methods for cleaning oil spills declared ineffective by the UN report. The ‘No progress’ report also highlights Shell’s manipulation of information to avoid accountability for old and leaking pipes – pipes so old the company will not disclose their age or condition.
The UN study also recommended, amongst other measures, the establishment of an Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Authority and the establishment of an Environmental Restoration Fund with an initial capital of USD $1 billion. Neither of these has been established.
The Nigerian government, Shell, and its home governments – the UK and the Netherlands – have all benefitted from oil extraction in the Niger Delta and should now support a social and environmental rehabilitation process and the implementation in full of the UN study.