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UN: $1 Billion to Clean Oil-Polluted Niger Delta

UN: $1 Billion to Clean Oil-Polluted Niger Delta

The  United Nations has released a report saying that cleaning up the oil-polluted Ogoniland area of Nigeria would cost $1 billion and take over 30 years –  the most wide-ranging and costly cleanup of oil pollution clean-up ever. The damage was caused by the operations of oil companies in the area over the past 50 years. The Niger Delta, the world’s third largest wetland, was once rich with biodiversity but is now one of the most oil-polluted areas on earth. The report (and the cost estimate) cover only one small area of the vast Niger Delta; the $1 billion would cover the first five years of cleanup.

Among the findings:

  • Public health is seriously threatened in at least ten communities where drinking water is contaminated with high levels of hydrocarbons.
  • Some areas that appear unaffected on the surface are in fact severely contaminated underground, and pose a high and immediate risk to human and environmental well being,
  • Scientists found an eight centimeter (three inch) layer of oil floating on groundwater (which feeds wells) linked to a spill from six years ago.

The UN Environmental Program report notes, “When an oil spill occurs on land, fires often break out, killing vegetation and creating a crust over the land, making remediation or revegetation difficult. At some sites, a crust of ash and tar has been in place for several decades.” The report makes multiple recommendations for long term remediation of the land, plant and animal life, and human health, including eight emergency measures around preventing further ingestion of polluted water. The report’s recommended the formation of an “Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoniland, to be set up with an initial capital injection of US$1 billion contributed by the oil industry and the government, to cover the first five years of the clean-up project.”

Oil drilling ceased in the region in the 1990s as Shell was forced out of the area due to community protest over pollution and poverty. Billions of dollars worth of oil was extracted, yet the local inhabitants are worse off than before the oil operations began. Shell blames much of the current problems on illicit oil operations.

Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria, said in a statement, “All oil spills are bad – bad for local communities, bad for the environment, bad for Nigeria and bad for SPDC. We clean up all spills from our facilities, whatever the cause, and restore the land to its original state.”

Amnesty International Global Issues Director Audrey Gaughran stated, “This report should also be a wake-up call to institutional investors. In the past they’ve allowed Shell’s public relations machine to pull the wool over their eyes, but they will now want to see the company cleaning up its act in the Niger Delta – that means putting real pressure on Shell to avoid spillages, compensate those already affected and disclose more accurate information on their impacts.”

UNEP conducted the assessment at the request of the Nigerian government. Some 4,000 samples were taken, and 5,000 medical records were examined; in addition, public meetings and interviews gained input from 23,000 citizens. The report was presented to that country’s president this week. The report was paid for by  Shell at the request of the Nigerian government,  as part of the “polluter pays” principle.

In the case of pollution as in some many others, geography is destiny. The location of a spill (or thousands of spills) makes a difference in the amount of publicity it receives. The Wall Street Journal notes, “After the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, BP PLC says it and the U.S. government marshaled an armada of 6,000 ships and 100 aircraft to battle that oil spill. West Africa’s standing response team consists of a single small plane, based in Ghana, and a few boats.”

In this video, a fish farmer in Bodo, Nigeria describes the effects of one of the thousands of oil spills had on his small operation. Shell has accepted liability for the spill.

 

 

Image: Still from YouTube video uploaded by 

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65 comments

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7:07AM PDT on Sep 20, 2011

These companies should pay for their mistakes!

3:04AM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

Thanks for the article.

7:09PM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

Although Shell has accepted liability for some of the mega oil spill in the Niger Delta, and I quote,
"Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria, said in a statement, “All oil spills are bad – bad for local communities, bad for the environment, bad for Nigeria and bad for SPDC. We clean up all spills from our facilities, whatever the cause, and restore the land to its original state.”
Yet reports from Nigeria newspapers reveal that Shell continue to ignore demands from communities for example in Ogbia Local Government, where Shell has its Kolo Creek station in Bayelsa State.
Shell joined by other International Oil Corporations (IOC) including Chevron, Mobil, Exxon, Agip, the NNPC etc operating in the Niger Delta should begin the clean up now to repair, restore the damaged ecosystems, correct its insensitivity to the plight of neglected citizens and stop suffering in the Niger Delta. United Nations estimated 1 Billion US Dollar cost for Niger Delta phase 1 clean up and cost of the additional clean-up that will last for another 30 years should be shouldered by all the identified IOC’s. The current Nigerian Government has the right mind-set and is ready to help it’s citizens marginalized since several decades. It is expected that the Government will unequivocally demand clean-up cost from all IOC’s and follow President Obama’s precedence action taken in the clean-up of Gulf of Mexico oi

5:22PM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

Although Shell has accepted liability for some of the mega oil spill in the Niger Delta, and I quote,
"Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria, said in a statement, “All oil spills are bad – bad for local communities, bad for the environment, bad for Nigeria and bad for SPDC. We clean up all spills from our facilities, whatever the cause, and restore the land to its original state.”Yet reports from Nigeria newspapers reveal that Shell continue to ignore demands from communities for example in Ogbia Local Government, where Shell has its Kolo Creek station in Bayelsa State.
Shell should begin the clean up right away; repair and restore the damaged ecosystems and correct its insensitivity to the plight of neglected citizens and stop suffering in the Niger Delta. Other International Oil Corporations (IOC) including Chevron, Mobil, Exxon, Agip, the NNPC etc operating in the Niger Delta must do same as Shell. Total disregard for corrective resolutions agreed upon in the past can no longer stand.
Now is the time to move from Resolutions to Results.
Now is the time to show that capitalism has a human face. The IOC’s should therefore take cue from BP oil spillage clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico and shoulder the United Nations estimated 1 Billion US Dollar cost for the phase 1 clean up of the Niger Delta. Additional clean-up assessed y the United Nation environmental experts will last for another 30 year

4:55PM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

The United Nations Environmental Global Watchdog finally releases colossal environmental, ecosystems damage and human suffering from neglect, corporate greed and in-action to the detriment of Niger Delta communities.
Although Shell has accepted liability for some of the mega oil spill and readiness to clean up, and I quote,
"Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria, said in a statement, “All oil spills are bad – bad for local communities, bad for the environment, bad for Nigeria and bad for SPDC. We clean up all spills from our facilities, whatever the cause, and restore the land to its original state.”
Reports from Nigeria newspapers however reveal Shell continues to ignore demands from communities for example in Ogbia Local Government, Shell Kolo Creek Station in Bayelsa State.
If Shell is indeed ready to clean up its oil mess, repair and restore the damaged ecosystems and correct its insensitivity to the plight of the neglected citizens, it will help life and stop suffering in Niger Delta. Shell should match its words with action and deliver the greatest stimulus impulse and wake up call to the other International Oil Corporations (IOC) including Chevron, Mobil, Exxon, Agip, the NNPC etc responsible for oil spill in the Niger Delta.
Progress in Nigeria’s Niger Delta has been halted for over five decades due to total disregard of corrective resolutions agreed upon. Now is the time to move from

3:55PM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

Have the oil companies got the Nigerian President in their pockets? Why don't he do something to make these oil companies clean up there mess, which is affecting his own people. Do we have to wait until it starts to affect the entire world? Before we take action to make sure these oil companies do what they should be doing.....

3:43PM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

What a sad mess. The world has to work harder to prevent such spills.

3:16PM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

Before every action there must be contemplation because there will always be consequences.

12:47PM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

So sad! Oil companies should pay the total amount of the cleaning.
Noted

9:22AM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

this is one budget that must be met......so many children are being and have been born with and afflicted with skin leisions and diseases and shunned as witches due to ignorance, a tolerant govt. and religious zealouts who work together to misinform their people as to the real cause of what is afflicting their children, and I think it is a matter the UN should be getting involved in. Its overdue.....as usual.

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