Big Polluter Is Asked to Pay
|May 8, 2006||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Big Polluter Is Asked to Pay
Shell hit by $1,500,000,000 Nigeria spill claim
Here are portions of a report from the Guardian (UK).
by Terry Macalister
Shell has been hit by a $1.5bn (£840m) pollution claim from the Nigerian parliament 24 hours after being fined in Britain and the United States by financial regulators for “unprecedented misconduct”.
The latest bombshell was delivered by the Nigerian senate after it reviewed a compensation demand from the Ijaw tribe in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
Shell has been under fire in Nigeria for many years over its poor environmental record and its lack of human concern in the country.
The company admits that in 2002 alone there were 262 oil spill incidents in Nigeria, involving 2,700 tonnes of crude. In the same year it identified 548 sites, including pipelines, that needed “remedial” action to avoid contamination.
“The motion was overwhelmingly passed and the senate committee on petroleum was asked to monitor compliance,” said a senate spokesman quoted by Reuters.
Newspapers in Nigeria said the Ijaw were asking to be paid compensation for health problems and economic hardship caused by several spillages.
Shell’s head office in London played down the reports, saying it had not yet seen the senate resolution and would not comment in detail until it had. But the Anglo-Dutch group admitted it had fought against claims made by the Ijaw at a public hearing by a committee of the Nigerian house of representatives in May 2002.
Nigeria is a major source of oil revenues for Shell but has been a thorn in its side. Shell has been in conflict with the Nigerian authorities over allegations it abused a tax-break system, the so-called reserves addition bonus. It also upset the government when it admitted Nigeria was at the heart of the reserves reporting scandal that led to £80m of fines in Britain and the US.
Last night, however, there was confusion about the impact of the Senate resolution when Nigeria’s presidential adviser on petroleum, Edmund Dakouro, suggested the $1.5bn fine might be unenforceable. “Senate rulings have the force of public opinion, and are a very powerful statement, but the senate doesn’t have the executive force to carry it out,” Mr Dakouro told Dow Jones Newswires.
Would Shell dare to ignore the ruling while continuing to exploit Nigerian natural resources? Shell has been keen to rebuild its battered image in Nigeria, recently announcing plans to appoint its first Nigerian national to head its business in the country.
‘Natural Resource Values to Benefit the People’ should be the norm, not the exception — Learn about the Niger Delta Fund Initiative
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