Approximately 11,000 Nigerians filed a lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell on Friday, alleging that Shell’s massive spills have destroyed their lands, rivers, and wetlands.
Nearly thirty-five villages of the coastal Bodo community have been affected by these two, massive oil spills, which actually occurred in 2008 in the Niger River delta. The livelihood of these communities is in disrepair, as most of the residents are subsistence farmers and fishermen. While Shell has admitted liability for the leaks associated with the spills, it claims that the Nigerian locals are to blame for the damaging spills. A spokesman for the European oil company, Jonathan French, stated that the locals “spilled oil during theft from the pipeline and sabotaged it to exaggerate the environmental damage,” eventually hoping to be generously compensated for greater damage.
While the actual amount of the spill is still undetermined, the geographic span of oil coverage cannot be mistaken: ninety square kilometers of land and waterways were affected along with a coastline comparable to that of BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
Human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, believe that Shell should pay approximately $1 billion to these villages in order for the residents to repair their lives and finally leave the arduous, painstaking years behind.
Do you agree with or believe Shell’s argument? Could Nigeria be crying out for monetary attention? Does it make a difference to note that Nigeria was Africa’s largest oil producer in 2011 and the fifth largest source of crude imports for the U.S.?