Shell ‘hid’ oil spill health information
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
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.