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Group Says Shell Must Be ‘Accountable’ for Spills

Judd-Leonard Okafor

12 January 2012

The environmental group, Friends of the Earth Nigeria, says the oil corporation Royal Dutch Shell must be held accountable for pollutions from its facilities, stopping it from causing further pollution and ensuring it deploys appropriate technology to deal with spills.

The group’s stance came after Senate committee on environment and ecology summoned the company, along with the environment ministry officials and two agencies in the wake of a 150km wide spill from a facility belonging Shell at Bonga, some 120km off the Nigerian coast

The two agencies are the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, and National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA).

At the height of the spill, Friends of the Earth said it didn’t “expect anything meaningful” to come out of the summons, calling it “cosmetic.”

Philip Jakpor, media head at Friends of the Earth Nigeria, said, “We must hold these corporations accountable. They must not pollute our environment, they must deploy the same technologies that are effective that they use in other parts of the world here. There must not be double standards. And if they are liable to prosecution, you should go ahead and prosecute them.”

The group said it didn’t believe NOSDRA would be able to independently verify Shell’s claim that only around 40,000 barrels of oil leaked into the ocean.

“Most times the information that is made public is actually information from the same industries that do the pollution,” Jakpor told Daily Trust. “So, in this case we don’t believe their claim. We believe it would be far, far more than that.”

Independent bodies who monitored the spill hinted the amount of oil dumped in the ocean could exceed Shell’s claim.

But the Senate committee which summoned NOSDRA and the three other parties expressed doubts as well about whether the agency is equipped to handle the job.

The committee chairman Bukola Saraki said NOSDRA lacked vessels and now “relies almost exclusively on the grace and benevolence of the oil companies, in this case, Shell.”

Meanwhile, the oil company insisted last week it successfully completed cleanup of spill from the Bonga offshore oil field, resuming production there on January 1.

The company’s manager in Nigeria Mutiu Sunmonu claimed satellite and aerial imagery confirmed the leak “could not have reached coastlines in the eastern Niger Delta, as some media articles have suggested.” In updates the company posted on the net, he said the images of the spill reported came from a third party spill, “which appeared to be from a vessel, in the middle of the area that we had previously cleaned up.”

Copyright � 2012 Daily Trust. All rights reserved.

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