Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) will start cleaning up the 2008 (infamous) oil spills in the Bodo community of oil-rich Rivers State in Nigeria. An official of the parent company, Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) from Netherlands, said that the (overdue) clean up will commence in April, 2017. The Bodo community has been in conflict with Shell over the oil spills for years which led to the Bodo community booting out Shell from their land . . .
The Bodo community is located in Gokana Local Government Area of Ogoniland, Rivers State. The community hosts Shells TransNiger pipelines. The Source of Conflict: the type of Conflict between Shell and Bodo is classified as (1st level) Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy and (the 2nd) level is Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions) – Oil and gas exploration and extraction.
Reuters reported that the head of a group helping to organize Shell’s (RDSa.L) clean-up efforts in an oil Delta community in Nigeria said on Friday he was hopeful clean-up work after two spills in 2008 could start in April this year.
For four years, the Bodo community has asked Shell to clean up the oil spill. One fisherman expressed the view of many when he said; the greatest priority is the clean up of the oil, so i can continue to fish again, But the pollution remains. The mud stinks and the crabs caught in the swamps around the town of Bodo in the Niger delta about two years ago smelt of light crude oil.
The 15,600 Ogoni farmers and fishermen whose lives were devastated by two large Shell oil spills in 2008 and 2009 still lingers till today.
This clearly contradicts Nigeria’s existing regulations, which requires oil companies to act promptly to clean up oil spills, regardless of what caused them. Shell has also refused to pay compensation to the affected people – until Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary announced a £55million settlement two years ago. Royal Dutch Shell agreed in 2015 on a £55 million settlement with the Bodo community after accepting liability for two pipeline leaks due to corrosion that contaminated their land.
The settlement, split £35m for individuals and £20m for the Bodo community, avoided Shell having to defend a potentially embarrassing London high court case at the time. It was thought to be the largest payout to any African community following environmental damage and the first time that compensation for an oil spill had been paid directly to affected individuals rather than to local chiefs.
Reuters reports that progress to clean up the spill has been slow after Shell said members of the community had denied it access in August 2015 when work was set to begin. A community representative said they were unhappy with the contractor Shell picked.
After months of wrangling, the parties have reached agreement and clean-up work is set to start in April, said the chairman of the Bodo Mediation Initiative (BMI), a programme started in 2013 by the Dutch ambassador to Nigeria.
“Hopefully we should be able to go to site and start the clean-up next month,” BMI Chairman Inemo Samiama told Reuters.
The BMI is mediating between Shell’s Nigeria subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) and the Bodo community. It also includes representatives from the United Nations Environmental Programme, the local government, the Dutch embassy and several non-governmental organisations.
“SPDC remains fully committed to ensuring clean-up takes place and will continue to work with the BMI to implement a remediation plan for Bodo area,” said a spokesman for SPDC.
IMPACTS OF THE OIL SPILL
Visible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion.
Potential: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity.
Visible: Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths.
Visible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence
Pathways for conflict outcome / response
Bodo community took Shell to Court to demand for Justice.
1. Shell should carry out a comprehensive clean up of oil pollution and environmental damage in Bodo, in consultation with the community.
2. Ensure that people affected by the oil spills are provided with remedy. This should include rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantee of non repetition, as well as adequate compensation that takes into account long term impacts, health issues and all other reasonable damages.
3. Government Should ensure that oil pollution in Bodo is cleaned up as a matter of urgency and subject to independent verification.The clean up should be in line with international good practices.
4.Immediate provision of relief and assistance to those affected by the spill.
5.Shell should make a clear and public commitment to contribute 1 billion USD as an initial payment to an independent clean up fund for pollution in Ogoniland.
6.Alternative sources of livelihood should be provided for displaced community people
7. The government should ensure the implementation of the UNEP report on the assessment of Ogoniland.
8. The Federal Government of Nigeria should leave the oil in the soil and diversify the economy.