Friends of the Earth International welcomes the report released today by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) that reveals the true extent of the environmental devastation caused by fifty years of oil operations in Ogoniland, Nigeria.
We are shocked by the size and severity of the oil spills the report uncovers and their consequences. It is dramatic that, 18 years after oil production stopped in the region, the Ogoni are still suffering from severe oil pollution.
The report confirms Friends of the Earth International’s long-held belief that Shell has not only failed to meet the environmental guidelines and standards for petroleum industries in Nigeria (EGASPIN) but also its own standards.
The fact that Shell Nigeria is not working according to Nigerian, International and Shell standards raises doubts about the priority the oil giant gives to the environment and the well being of Nigerians.
Reacting to the contents of the report Friends of the Earth International Chair, Nnimmo Bassey said:
“Going by the findings, the Ogoni people who, ironically, are still living with this ecological disaster may never have the right to an environment that can allow them to develop as they desire. Not even the paltry sum recommended for restoration can assuage the dislocation that Shell’s activity has wrought on them.”
Bassey insisted that the $1 billion initial restoration fund that the report has proposed is negligible compared with the mammoth ecological disaster caused by Shell.
Friends of the Earth International call for Shell to be held accountable for the findings in this report. As the party responsible for the devastation they must start clean up operations immediately and halt ongoing pollution such as routine gas flares and the leaking pipes that continually pollute streams, rivers and farmlands.
Shell should also apologise and compensate victims for the suffering they have caused.
Read the UNEP report here: http://www.unep.org/nigeria/
The report, carried out by 50 international experts, took place over a two year period and examined more than 200 locations, reviewed more than 5,000 medical records and engaged over 23,000 people at local community meetings.
Amongst its many findings it reported that oil pollution is widespread in Ogoniland and most people have been exposed to chronic pollution all their lives. Hydrocarbon pollution, seriously hazardous to health, has reached groundwater at 41 sites and benzene, a known carcinogen, has been found in drinking water at a level 900 times above WHO standards.
The report also finds that fisheries have been destroyed and that wetlands around Ogoniland are highly degraded.
Read the factsheet put together by Friends of the Earth Netherlands
The UNEP pollution research project in Ogoniland and its political importance [add the pdf file]
For more information contact
Friends of the Earth International Media officer: firstname.lastname@example.org, +31 20 622 1369
Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth International chair and director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria: email@example.com, +234 803 727 4395 (Nigerian mobile)