Seventy thousand voices tell Shell to clean up its mess in Nigeria

22 May 2012

Chief Executive of Shell, Peter Voser, was presented with 70,000 signatures protesting against the oil giant's practices in the Niger Delta, at its annual general meeting today.

The signatures collected by Friends of the Earth, SumofUs and Amnesty International sent a clear message that Shell must take responsibility and start cleaning up its mess in the highly- polluted area of Nigeria.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands / Milieudefensie campaigners stood outside the meeting in the Hague and offered Shell shareholders the opportunity to taste a sip of contaminated water from the Niger Delta. The water which contains hydrocarbons such as benzene and hazardous chemicals like barium, is the only 'drinking' water which many residents of the Niger Delta have access to.

Over the past decades Shell has let tens of millions of litres of oil stream into the Niger Delta by refusing to properly maintain its pipeline network. The company also continues to violate the Nigerian ban on gas flaring.

Nnimmo Bassey, director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria and chair of Friends of the Earth International, said: "Shell continues to reap obscene profits from the oil fields of Nigeria at the expense of the lives and the livelihoods of the poor people. As we speak Shell is intensifying its poisoning of the environment and the peoples of the region. By our records Shell had over 200 oil spills in 2011 alone and the 2012 tally is rising already. Shell must stop the poisoning and start cleaning up its mess right now."

A United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) report about oil pollution in Ogoniland, in the Niger Delta, launched in August 2011 called for a $1 billion starter fund for clean-up in the region. A comprehensive plan from Shell to take responsibility for its practises still hasn't emerged. The UN report criticised the company stating that the maintenance of the Shell infrastructure "has been and remains inadequate".