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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora