UNEP report exposes Shell's failings in Nigeria

Amsterdam, 4 August 2011 – The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, presented to the Nigerian government on 4 August, offers an appalling picture of the consequences of Shell’s business practices in Nigeria.

Now that the UNEP has irrefutably stated that the Nigerian region Ogoniland is severely polluted, Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) believes Shell must finally accept liability for decades of environmental pollution. This means cleaning up the Niger Delta and compensating area residents.

The UNEP concluded in its assessment report that many locations have been insufficiently cleaned up and that Shell is not working according to law and international standards for oil production. Milieudefensie, in conjunction with four Nigerian farmers, is bringing a number of legal cases against Shell, and had reached similar conclusions from its own research.

Our director Hans Berkhuizen: ‘It is staggering how much oil still remains in the Niger Delta. The oil is more widespread and the situation is even worse than we had feared.’

Nigerian region extremely polluted

The UNEP reports shows that land, water and drinking water are severely polluted. The drinking water contains extremely high concentrations of carcinogenic benzene and fishing, once a major source of income, has become impossible. UNEP estimates that cleaning up Ogoniland will take a long time and cost at least a billion dollars. Ogoniland is just a small part of the region in which Shell is active in the Niger Delta.

We therefore call upon Royal Dutch Shell to reserve billions for the restoration of the region and not to postpone the start of clean-up activities. Each month of delay means that residents and nature in the Delta must live another month in the oil disaster.

Legal pressure on Shell stepped up

One day before the UNEP report was publicised, Shell admitted its liability in two major oil disasters in Bodo in Ogoniland – a legal case in England is pending against Shell on these. The information in the UNEP report and this recent admission of liability by Shell for these two major oil leaks are of benefit to the lawyers in the Milieudefensie/Nigerian farmers case. The village of Goi where Eric Dooh lives, one of the Nigerian plaintiffs in the Dutch legal case, is located on the same creek as Bodo. The Dooh family is taking legal action in The Hague concerning the leakage in Goi. A few years after this leak, their company also experienced disastrous consequences from the leaks in Bodo.