News / Africa

Shell in Court Over Nigeria Pollution Charges

Plaintiffs Alali Efanga, Friday Alfrad Akpan, Chief Fidelis A. Oguru, Eric Dooh, and lawyer Chima Williams wait for the start of a court case against Shell, in The Hague, October 11, 2012.Plaintiffs Alali Efanga, Friday Alfrad Akpan, Chief Fidelis A. Oguru, Eric Dooh, and lawyer Chima Williams wait for the start of a court case against Shell, in The Hague, October 11, 2012.
x
Plaintiffs Alali Efanga, Friday Alfrad Akpan, Chief Fidelis A. Oguru, Eric Dooh, and lawyer Chima Williams wait for the start of a court case against Shell, in The Hague, October 11, 2012.
Plaintiffs Alali Efanga, Friday Alfrad Akpan, Chief Fidelis A. Oguru, Eric Dooh, and lawyer Chima Williams wait for the start of a court case against Shell, in The Hague, October 11, 2012.
Selah Hennessy
The international oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell was in court Thursday facing charges of polluting Nigerian villages.  The case has been brought in a civil court in The Hague by four Nigerian farmers and the environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth. 

The farmers are from the Ogoniland region of southern Nigeria and say they can no longer work or feed their families because oil spills in the area have damaged crops and fish farms.

"Communities in Ogoniland had been badly contaminated," said Eric Dooh, one of the Nigerian plaintiffs. "Some communities are deserted, like my community, Goi, in Ogoniland, has been deserted as a result of devastation of the ecosystem and our environment.  My father had four big fish farms."

Ogoniland in the Niger Delta has been a major source of crude oil for decades and Shell is the top multinational operating in the area.

The plaintiffs say the oil operations have resulted in major pollution that has devastated vegetation, water supplies and fishing ponds.

They want Shell to clean up the pollution and ensure pipelines are maintained and kept secure to prevent future leaks.

But Shell says it has done what it can to contain the impact of its operations.  Spills, it says, are largely the result of sabotage by armed gangs who hack into pipelines.

"We went in, we stopped the leak, we cleaned it," said Allard Castelein, vice president for environment at Shell. "There is a process that involves a joint investigation, of government officials, community officials and company officials, they jointly signed off on the fact that it was caused by sabotage."

Last year the United Nations published a report that blamed multinational oil companies - and especially Shell - along with the Nigerian government for devastating environmental impacts in the Niger Delta.

The report said cleaning up the area would cost $1 billion and take 25 years.

The environmental group Friends of the Earth says it hopes the court case in The Hague will mark a precedent.

"What we expect today is that outcome of this case will be that Shell is convicted for polluting the environment, for not properly maintaining its pipelines in Nigeria and for harming millions of people, polluting their drinking water, depleting their fish stocks, ruining their crop lands as a result of oil pollution," said Gerrit Ritsema, a coordinator at Friends of the Earth.

The case has been filed against the Nigerian subsidiary of Shell - the Shell Petroleum Development Company - and against Royal Dutch Shell, the parent company with global headquarters in the Netherlands.  A verdict is not expected until next year.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid