Here, There and Everywhere

Own Up Shell

Shell Oil considers the oil spils it caused in Nigeria a “tragedy.” Then why does the oil giant refuse to clean up its act?

Dear Gabriel,

There used to be life and hope in the Niger Delta town of Bodo, a village filled with thriving fish ponds and mangrove trees. Then in 2008, two oil spills changed everything — twice, nearby Shell Oil pipelines spewed toxic oil for weeks before they were repaired.

“It killed all the mangrove trees, the ecosystem, everything we put there. Everything just died in a day.” –Bodo resident Christian Lekoya Kpandei

What was Shell Oil’s initial response to the devastation in Bodo, to Christian’s ruined fish ponds and livelihood? Silence.

Although Shell has accepted liability for these two spills, it is still silent on the issue of undertaking a comprehensive clean-up of the affected area, fully compensating the people whose lives have been devastated by the spills, and rehabilitating the affected area.

Counter Shell’s silence with some noise of your own. Tell Royal Dutch Shell’s CEO that it’s time his company own up, pay up and clean up its human rights mess in the Niger Delta.

The facts are indisputable. According to a recently released UN report, Shell has failed to adequately clean up pollution in the Niger Delta for years. It’s a familiar story these days — yet another corporation trying to weasel out of a mess of its own making.

Today, on the 16th anniversary of the execution of Nigerian environmental and human rights defender Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his fellow activists, Amnesty is launching a new report that reviews the record of the Bodo spill and adds damning new facts.

Shell Oil, which recently reported profits of $7.2 billion for July-September 2011, initially offered the Bodo community just a few thousand dollars and 50 bags of rice, beans, sugar and tomatoes as relief for the disaster.

Shell Oil is one of the three biggest companies in the world by revenue, a juggernaut in international business. But when it comes down to paying for a cleanup fund in Nigeria — to pay basic compensation to residents like Christian who lost everything in the oil spill Shell is liable for — this multinational corporation refuses to take responsibility.

Of course, if Shell commits to a $1 billion cleanup fund in Nigeria, as Amnesty is asking it to do, Shell’s shareholder profits may suffer a little. But we believe corporations should not put the profit of a few over the health and human rights of entire communities.

Stand up for “the 99%”, wherever they are. We can’t be silent while the human rights to water and livelihood are being destroyed by corporations like Shell.

Let’s win a key victory in the fight against environmental abuses in the oil industry and for human rights. Sign our petition now calling on Shell Oil to clean up its Niger Delta mess.

For justice,

Tanuka Loha
Director, Demand Dignity Campaign
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Momentum is already on our side! Just last month the US Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases that will determine whether corporations can be sued in US courts for human rights abuses committed abroad. One of them involves a group of Nigerian nationals who sued Royal Dutch Petroleum and two of its Shell Oil subsidiaries, alleging their complicity in serious human rights abuses by the Nigerian government in the early 1990s to suppress activism against the oil industry.

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