The case of oil spill in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria filed against Royal Dutch Shell would be better decided in Nigeria than in UK, and its subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) will now be part of the lawsuits filed in England according to the oil giant.
Around 40,000 members of Nigeria’s Ogle and Bile communities say the energy giant and its local unit, SPDC, are both accountable for oil contamination in the Niger Delta since the 1980s.
Under the leadership of community organiser and environmental rights activist, Late Ken Saro-Wiwa who founded the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) in the 1990s, the push gained notability.
The group argued that oil production had devastated the region’s environment, while bringing no benefit to its 500,000 people. Saro-Wiwa said that Shell had turned what was once an area of unspoilt natural beauty into a grubby black moonscape.
The decision comes after a Dutch court in January directed the supermajor to pay compensation to residents of its operational base in the country’s far south for an oil spill action.
Daniel Leider, an attorney representing the claimants in a statement said that “this is a significant win” for the affected communities because it means they can finally bring their case to trial.
“Shell’s oil contamination remains in their drinking water, land, and waterways, and still no clean-up has taken place,” Leider said.
But the firm said that it cleans up any environmental damage, irrespective of what causes it.
According to a report by Amnesty International in June 2020, “work has begun on only 11% of polluted sites identified by UN Environment Programme (UNEP), with only a further 5% included in current clean-up efforts, and no site has been entirely cleaned up.”
“Actions classified by UNEP as “emergency measures” on drinkable water and health protection have not been implemented properly. There are still communities without access to clean water supplies.Health and environmental monitoring has not been carried out,” the report added.