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Nigeria – Shell Reaches Oil Spill Agreement

Shell Oil SpillsShell has reached an agreement to clean up a local Nigerian community devastated by two oil spills in 2008. Representatives from the Amnesty International, United Nations Environment Program, the Dutch embassy met with Shell over the weekend to hash out a €134 to €446 ($149 to $497) million clean-up plan for Bodo, a Nigerian fishing town deeply affected by oil contamination. 

The agreement was reached Friday in Port Harcourt, the capital of River State Nigeria, and will see cleanup efforts beginning in July or August.

The efforts laid out will consist of a plan to bring back fish and the local foliage to the area in addition to removing oil from polluted sections. Additionally, the plan seeks to reduce illegal oil tapping and fund further development in the areas around Bodo.  A contractor involved in the massive clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico will be handling the effort and a project manager has already been appointed to head the plan. 

The community of nearly 40 thousand lies in the heart of the Niger Delta and relies heavily on fishing to sustain its economy. The livelihood of thousands of local fisherman has been put in jeopardy as fish, shellfish and surrounding mangrove habitats have been destroyed by the oil spills. 

In January of this year, Shell reached a settlement to pay €55 million ($83 million) to the 15,600 local fisherman impacted by the spill, with each person receiving roughly three years equivalent in minimum wage salary. Currently, the majority of the claimants have received compensation from Shell, but some in the local community have criticized efforts to initiate a cleanup plan.

Speaking to local news sources, Godwin Ojo of Environmental Rights Action claimed that the cleanup efforts were overdue and should have coincided more closely with the initial legal settlement reached back in January. 

Nigeria is one of the largest African suppliers of crude with exports reaching two million barrels per day. 

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