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Shell Faces U.K. Showdown Over Impact of ‘Cataclysmic’ Oil Spill

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Shell Faces U.K. Showdown Over Impact of ‘Cataclysmic’ Oil Spill

  • Communities claim impact of spill not felt until years later
  • Shell said it’s implausible, damage is from other pollutants

By Katharine Gemmell: 26 February 2022, 08:32 GMT

A group of Nigerians want a trial against Royal Dutch Shell Plc in the U.K. for what they allege was a “cataclysmic” oil spill that wreaked havoc on their communities years later.

The pollution was caused by oil from the so-called Bonga Spill in 2011 but was only felt following flooding and storms three to four years after the initial mishap, say lawyers for Harrison Jalla and Abel Chujor, the two lead claimants in the lawsuit.

Shell has a fraught history in the West African nation, where frequent spills and challenging relationships with local communities have led it to reassess the future of its onshore and shallow water operations. These leaks, many of which Shell blames on sabotage and theft rather than mechanical failure, have destroyed the livelihoods of fishing and farming populations in the southeast of the country and have led to ongoing legal battles in Nigeria, the U.K. and the Netherlands.

— With assistance by William Clowes


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