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UK Taxpayers Stuck with Shell’s Toxic Bill for North Sea Cleanup

Greenpeace activists hang a banner reading, ‘Clean up your mess, Shell’, as they board two oil platforms in Shell’s  North Sea Brent field on Oct. 14, 2019. Photographer: Marten van Dijl/Greenpeace

Posted by John Donovan 3 April 2024

In a move that’s sure to leave you shaking your head and checking your wallet, it turns out that you – yes, you, the taxpayer – are footing the bill for Shell’s latest environmental mess in the North Sea. Because apparently, when it comes to cleaning up their own toxic waste, Shell thinks it’s more fun to stick you with the tab.

Despite Shell’s best efforts to keep their grimy oil rigs intact and avoid the costly cleanup, decision-makers under the Ospar Convention – the folks in charge of marine pollution – have put their foot down. And while Shell is busy squirming, environmental groups like Greenpeace are cheering from the sidelines.

But don’t worry, it gets better. According to Dominic Pattinson, the executive secretary of the Ospar Commission, Shell is on the hook for removing every last bit of toxic sludge from their structures in the North Sea. And guess who’s picking up the tab? That’s right – you guessed it – the good ol’ taxpayer.

Now, you might be wondering, “How much is this little cleanup gonna set us back?” Well, strap in, because estimates suggest it could cost upwards of £400 million. And that’s on top of the £600 million in rebates Shell has already claimed from the UK since 2018. Talk about adding insult to injury.

But fear not, because Shell’s got an excuse ready to roll. According to a company spokesman, decommissioning their mess in the North Sea is a “complex, major engineering project.” Translation: We made a mess, but cleaning it up is just too darn hard.

Meanwhile, environmentalists are fuming. David Santillo from Greenpeace called it “unacceptable” for Shell to leave their waste lying around for centuries, while Tessa Khan from campaign group Uplift slammed the government for passing the buck to taxpayers. And honestly, can you blame them?

So there you have it, folks. While Shell sits back and counts its profits, it’s you and me who are left holding the bag – and the bill – for their dirty deeds. But hey, at least we’ll have a cleaner North Sea… once we’ve emptied our wallets.

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