Shell has been accused of making false claims about its oil spill cleanup operations in Nigeria and has been urged to help the worst-hit communities.
Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) have charged the oil major with failing to implement recommendations from a critical 2011 United Nations report.
Amnesty and the CEHRD’s claims come in a new report, titled Clean It Up: Shell’s False Claims About Oil Spill Response in the Niger Delta.
The 38-page document says most of the recommendations of a UN Environment Programme (Unep) report had not been implemented since its publication five years ago.
Of the 15 areas visited between July and September this year, 13 were still “visibly polluted” or contaminated despite claims to the contrary by Shell and the government.
The inadequate cleanup left thousands of people “exposed to contaminated land, water and air, in some cases for years or even decades,” said Amnesty researcher Mark Dummett.
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has said it rejects the claims and that it is “committed to the implementation of the Unep report”.
SPDC said it had “initiated action on all the recommendations addressed directly to it”.
“We disagree with the assertions made with regard to implementation … and would like to reiterate that we have consistently and publicly reported our actions in this regard, as well as highlighted ongoing challenges of crude oil theft and illegal refining,” it said.
The claims come a week before the 20th anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, who helped bring the extent of oil-related ecological damage in Nigeria to the world’s attention.
Saro-Wiwa and eight community leaders from Nigeria’s southern Ogoniland area were hanged on November 10 1995 after being convicted at a secret trial of murdering four local chiefs.
Nigeria’s then military government ignored pleas for clemency from world leaders.
Special vigils and protests outside Shell petrol stations have been planned in the run-up to next week’s anniversary, Amnesty said on Tuesday.
But campaigners said communities in the creeks and marshes of Nigeria’s oil-producing southern delta region were facing the same problems Saro-Wiwa highlighted two decades ago.
“Twenty years; nothing has been done,” said Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, a human rights and environmental activist from Port Harcourt.
“Ogoniland is still polluted … no cleanup has been done … justice has not been achieved. Twenty years and what they fought for has not been addressed. That cannot continue.”
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