News / Africa

Nigerians Demand Oil Spill Clean-up

Oil slick flows at the base of the mangrove at Bodo creek, outside Nigeria's oil hub city of Port Harcourt August 2, 2012.
Oil slick flows at the base of the mangrove at Bodo creek, outside Nigeria's oil hub city of Port Harcourt August 2, 2012.
Heather Murdock
A year after the U.N. Environment Program reported Ogoniland, Nigeria, should be the site of the biggest oil spill clean-up in history, activists say it is still not clear who will pay for it or when it will happen.  While the oil company and the government argue about money, people say they are getting sick and dying.

Oil was first discovered in Nigeria in the 1950s in Ogoniland, a part of the Niger Delta.  In the 1990s, after nearly 40 years of oil spills destroying people’s livelihoods and health, the people forced oil-giant Shell out of Ogoniland.  But today, oil still flows into the land from pipes that criss-cross the region.

Citizens' concerns

At a community center in Oleh, a town in neighboring Delta State, Lizzy Ologe, a primary school teacher, says oil pollution is still literally killing people.

"Our water is polluted.  Our health is in hazard form.  In fact, we have high mortality rates, especially our little children.  We no longer live to old age," said Ologe.

Early this week, Ogoni leaders met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to urge the government implement the recommendations of the U.N. study, which showed the damage to be worse than anyone had thought.

The study found families drinking water with 900 times the carcinogens considered safe by the World Health Organization and as much as eight centimeters of oil floating in groundwater associated with six-year-old spills. 

Who would pay?

The study called for a 25- to 30-year clean up funded initially with $1 billion, but it did not say who should pay.  This problem has thwarted efforts to clean up oil spills in the Niger delta for decades.  The government says the oil companies should do it.  The oil companies agree, but say they need government help, blaming sabotage and regional insecurity for most of the spills.

Shell accepted liability for two major oils spills that devastated a community of nearly 70,000 people in Ogoniland last year, but locals say the area is still drenched in oil.  On its website, Shell admits that maybe, some of their spill assessments have not gone “deep enough,” so spill areas they have restored are not really cleaned up.

In his office in the oil city of Warri, lawyer Onyinye Gandhi says both Shell and the government are responsible   The government is responsible for making sure the oil companies compensate spill victims and pay for environmental recovery.

"I think the only thing that has to be done is to attract government attention to the point that government will begin to hit a level of loss to hold these oil companies to account for the environmental degradation and devastation they have visited on the Niger Delta and its people over time," said Gandhi.

At the beginning of August, the U.N. Environmental Program praised the Nigerian government for again announcing it plans to implement the clean-up the report recommended.  But Ogoni leaders this week said nothing yet appears to be happening.

Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from the Niger Delta

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: thomas gradek from: canada
September 13, 2012 9:47 PM
Once the parties will have made up their mind to act responsibly to proceed with the cleanup, we can assist them in doing a very thorough job.
It would be a win-win for all stakeholders.
there is no price put on water today, which is the reason that there is no urgency in tackling this problem.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid