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Shell to pay millions in compensation to fishermen for oil spills


Oil spill. (Photo: afripol.org)

Click on the flag for more information about NigeriaNIGERIA
Thursday, January 08, 2015, 03:40 (GMT + 9)
After three years of legal battle in Britain over two spills in Nigeria in 2008, Shell agreed to pay USD 83.5 million to the Nigerian fishing community of Bodo.
The leakage devastated 600,000 hectares of mangroves and the fish and shellfish industry that sustained the villagers of that community in Nigeria's southern Niger Delta.
According to the claimants' London lawyers, Leigh Day, the settlement reached between the Dutch company and Bodo community "is thought to be one of the largest payouts to an entire community following environmental damage."
Shell’s first offer was USD 6,000 to the community, but the plaintiff rejected it outright.
Now, each of the 15,600 fishermen and farmers will receive USD 3,340, in a country where the minimum monthly wage is less than USD 100, Al Jazeera America informed.
Other USD 30 million will be delivered to the village of Bodo.
It is the first case of direct compensation to members of a community, as previous similar claims have been handled through the Nigerian authorities.
Shell had argued that only 4,000 barrels of oil were spilled in Bodo, while Amnesty International, based on an independent assessment, estimated the leakage over 100,000 barrels.
Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of Shell Nigeria, said that the oil company was "fully committed" to a cleanup. According to a U.N. Environment Program report, it could take up to 30 years to fully rehabilitate the area.
The NGO added that Shell continues to blame oil theft for spills to avoid paying compensation, when the company's own documents state its old oil pipelines pose a "major risk and hazard”.
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