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Nigeria and Shell 'not cleaning pollution'

Advocacy groups accuse oil firm and the Nigerian government of little action to address contamination caused by oil.

Last updated: 04 Aug 2014 03:40
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One assessment said it will probably take up to 30 years to fully clean the polluted area [REUTERS]

Little action has been taken to clean up pollution caused by oil production in Nigeria's Niger Delta region, either by the government or Shell Oil, Amnesty International and other groups have said.

Oil production has contaminated the drinking water of at least 10 communities in the Ogoniland area but neither the Nigerian government nor Royal Dutch Shell's Nigeria subsidiary have taken effective measures to restore the fouled environment, said the new report by Amnesty International, Friends of The Earth Europe, Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development, Environmental Rights Action, and Platform.

A detailed assessment of pollution in the oil-producing area was published in 2011 by the United Nations Environment Program, which said it will probably take up to 30 years to fully clean the area.

"In the three years since UNEP's study was published, the government of Nigeria and Shell have taken almost no meaningful action to implement its recommendations," the joint report said.

"The failure to fully implement any of the non-emergency measures after three years has resulted in a loss of confidence among many stakeholders.  Even the emergency measures have only been partially implemented," the groups said.

Emergency water supplies have been brought to communities affected by the pollution, the report said,  but the communities said the supplies were "erratic," often insufficient and the water sometimes "smelled bad and was unpleasant to drink." 

In its earlier study, UNEP gave several examples of contaminated water and land, including at Nisisioken Ogale, in western Ogoniland.

"Families are drinking water from wells that is contaminated with benzene - a known carcinogen - at levels over 900 times above World Health Organization guidelines,'' said UNEP.

'Almost no action'

In July 2012 the government created the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) to implement the UN recommendations. But as of July this year, "none of the NGOs monitoring UNEP implementation was aware of any action by HYPREP to meet this commitment," the groups said.

Oil production stopped in Ogoniland in 1993, but some of the equipment wasn't fully decommissioned, leaving it open to sabotage and corrosion, the UN report found.

In January 2013 Shell requested approval from the government to decommission its assets in Ogoniland, and was granted an approval more than a year later, in February 2014, according to the report.

"Shell's description of what has been achieved amounts to almost no action whatever,'' the groups said.

The groups accused Shell of putting the blame on oil theft, rather than taking responsibility and acting on the findings of the UN report.

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Source:
AP
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