Amnesty International has recently released a report claiming that United Nations Environmental Programme’s 2011 recommendations for pollution cleanup in the Ogoniland region of Nigeria have been ignored.
In 2011, UNEP found that pollution in Nigeria was caused by government negligence and, specifically, by the oil company Shell. UNEP was commissioned by Shell to review the area in an attempt to convince the locals to allow for their return.
Shell left the Ogoniland in 1993 amid a wave of protests. The company has been trying to reconcile with the locals ever since.
However, the UNEP report did not produce findings favorable to Shell, as it stated that people in Ogoniland have “been living with chronic pollution all their lives.”
For example, drinking water was found to have high levels of the known carcinogen benzene, and the amount was 900 hundred times higher than what the World Health Organization considers safe.
The UNEP concluded that it would take 25-30 years to clean up the oil pollution left behind by Shell.
Three years later, yet another watchdog organization is saying that pollution is still a serious problem in Ogoniland.
Amnesty international led a joint report with Friends of The Earth Europe, Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development, Environmental Rights Action and Platform to say that “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.”
Recommended measures like emergency water supplies were said to be “erratic” by the locals. Water was infrequent and often smelled bad.
Shell has been slow to decommission much of the equipment they left behind in 1993. This equipment is subject to corrosions, which contributes to further pollution.
There are also continuing oil spills, but Shell blames the government. Shell believes the spills occur because gangs break the pipelines to steal the crude oil, and it is the governments responsibility to deal with this.
Amnesty International and other groups involved in the joint report call for Shell to stop making excuses and take responsibility for the devastation they have brought upon Ogoniland and its people. This situation is far worse than what a brief summary can explain. To see the full report, click here.
– Eleni Marino