Shell ‘hid’ oil spill health in­for­ma­tion

Saturday Star - - NEWS -

ROYAL Dutch Shell’s Nige­ria sub­sidiary “fiercely op­posed” en­vi­ron­men­tal test­ing and is con­ceal­ing data show­ing thou­sands of Nige­ri­ans are ex­posed to health haz­ards from a stalled clean-up of the worst oil spill in the west African na­tion’s his­tory, ac­cord­ing to a Ger­man ge­ol­o­gist con­tracted by the Dutch-British multi­na­tional.

An en­vi­ron­men­tal study found “as­ton­ish­ingly high” pol­lu­tion lev­els with soil “lit­er­ally soaked with hy­dro­car­bons,” ge­ol­o­gist Kay Holtz­mann wrote in a let­ter to the Bodo Me­di­a­tion Ini­tia­tive.

The people of Bodo in the oil-producing south­ern Niger Delta should get ur­gent med­i­cal tests, Holtz­mann wrote in the let­ter dated Jan­uary 26.

Shell did not im­me­di­ately re­spond for com­ment.

The clean-up halted 17 months ago was part of a British out-of-court set­tle­ment in which Shell paid $83.5 mil­lion to 15 600 fish­er­men and farm­ers for dam­ages from two oil spills caused by old pipe­lines in 2008 and 2009 that dev­as­tated thou­sands of hectares of man­groves and creeks. Lawyers al­leged 500 000 bar­rels of oil spilled. Shell said it was only 1 640 bar­rels and ini­tially of­fered the community $50 000 in com­pen­sa­tion.

The agree­ment was reached through British law firm Leigh Day, which said yes­ter­day it had re­ceived no re­sponse to a Jan­uary 30 let­ter to Shell ask­ing for the data from Holtz­mann, who was hired to man­age the clean-up.

Holtz­mann’s let­ter urges Bodo Me­di­a­tion Ini­tia­tive co-chair­per­son Inemo Samiama to pub­lish the data. – AP

PIC­TURE: AP

In this June 20, 2010 file photo, men walk in an oil slick cov­er­ing a creek near Bodo in the oil-rich Niger Delta re­gion of Nige­ria.

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