Two Niger-Delta communities in Nigeria are suing shell in London for degrading their communities through multiple oil spills.
The communities of Bille and Ogale are majorly fishing communities who depend on their rivers and water bodies for business. Law firm, Leigh Day is handling the case and today, Wednesday March 2, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) will attend the first court hearing at the Technology and Construction Court in London. The court will decide if the applicants can indeed open a case against Shell.
The members of the Bille community in Rivers State, Nigeria have complained of the nonchalance on Shell’s part to clean up the oil spills caused by leaks in their pipelines. The Ogale community also claimed that since 1989 they have been burdened with dirty drinking water, rivers and even farm lands.
Oil companies, especially Shell have occasionally come under fire for neglecting to own up to the damages caused as a result of their operation in the Niger Delta.
In 2011, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a report showing scientific evidence of Shell’s failure to clean up the oil pollution in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta. The report showed that most sites which Shell had claimed to have cleaned were still polluted way above the government’s and even Shell’s environmental standards.
Concerning the oil spills, the SPDC released a statement agreeing to come up with a clean-up plan, while denying any activity in Ogale for a long period due to the inherent pipeline vandalism, abuse of workers, and so on.
“In mid-2015 SPDC JV, along with the government, UNEP and representatives of the Ogoni community, agreed to an 18-month roadmap to fast-track the environmental clean-up and remediation of Ogoniland which includes a governance framework.
“Both Bille and Ogale are areas heavily impacted by crude oil theft, pipeline sabotage and illegal refining which remain the main sources of pollution across the Niger Delta.
“Ogale is in Ogoniland and it is important to note that SPDC has produced no oil or gas in Ogoniland since 1993. Access to the area has been limited following a rise in violence, threats to staff and attacks on facilities,” the statement said.