Shell has agreed with Nigerian fishing community of Bodo in the Niger Delta to start the clean-up of two devastating oil spills in 2008, activists and locals say.
Steven Obodekwe of the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development lobby said: “Shell officials met representatives of Bodo community in Port Harcourt and the meeting was attended by officials of the Dutch embassy, Unep (United Nations Environment Programme), Amnesty International and local activists.
“It was agreed that the clean-up would commence in July or August,” he said.
Affected by spills
Local fisherman Christian Kpandei who is among the 15 600 affected by the spills, said a foreign contractor had been hired for the job.
“The company involved in the clean-up of the massive spills in the Gulf of Mexico is handling the job. The clean-up will start by August,” he said.
He said Bodo residents were looking forward to the exercise, adding that almost all the people affected by the spills had been compensated.
“Virtually all the 15 601 claimants have been settled. I’m one of the beneficiaries. There are only 150 people that are yet to collect their compensation because of some issues of inheritance,” he said.
Godwin Ojo of Port Harcourt-based Environmental Rights Action said the clean-up was belated.
“Shell should stop breaching its agreements with its host communities. The clean-up is long over due. It should have started in January,” he said.
Under a compensation deal hammered out in London in January, Shell’s Nigerian arm agreed to pay $55m to people in Bodo following a three-year legal battle over the 2008 spills that devastated their environment.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest crude producer, exporting some two million barrels per day but much of the Niger Delta oil region remains deeply impoverished.