New developments in a Nigeria community’s case against Royal Dutch Shell: British courts have reportedly set new precedents this week, in a ruling that established that the Bodo Community, which has been devastated by oil leakages in 2008/2009, could seek compensation in UK courts. Shell acknowledges responsibility for these spills. According to Leigh Day & Co, the law firm representing the Bodo Community:
“The amount of oil spilt is estimated to be as large as the spill following the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989 and that the amount of coastline affected is equivalent to the damage done following the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.”
While Leigh Day & Co’s Martyn Day has praised Royal Dutch Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary SPDC for its acceptance of liability and expediency in trying to right its wrongs, he also highlighted that this fishing community cannot now sustain itself because of the damage inflicted upon its waterways.
According to UPI, Shell and other petroleum companies operating in the region blame groups like the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) for the bulk of the spills that take place. MEND is a local group that blows up pipelines as acts of opposition to the oil companies. However, the U.N. Environmental Programme (UNEP) issued a report two days ago on the environmental damage done in the Niger delta, in which it found that: “the Shell Petroleum Development Company’s own procedures have not been applied, creating public health and safety issues.” The report finds that the damage done to the region is among the most extensive of all time, that between 1976 and 2001 over 6,800 oil spills have occurred, that the damage would take over 30 years to clean up, and would cost billions.
For a gallery of photos documenting the oil damage in the Niger Delta, click here.