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UN welcomes Nigeria plan to clean up oil contamination in Oganiland

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) [official website] on Wednesday welcomed a new project initiated by the government of Nigeria to resolve the oil contamination affecting the people of Ogoniland. The Nigeria decision [UN News Centre report] came a year after UNEP first released a report finding that the 50-year oil operation around the region led to contamination of drinking water and created fire hazards through oil leaks, and is likely to spread out in other areas if not addressed immediately. The Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, had announced [AllAfrica report] last month that the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project has been established to comply with UNEP's recommendation in the report. The government also stated that the scope, actions and financing of the project will be discussed in more detail. UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, expressed support for Nigeria's recent move, proposing that UNEP provide the government with expertise to make the project successful. The UNEP Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland also had proposed an initial $1 billion for the first five years of the project. It is expected that the clean-up will take at least 30 years requiring long-term financing.

The problem of oil spills and contamination is not isolated to Ogoniland. In April a Brazilian federal prosecutor filed [JURIST report] a second $11 billion lawsuit against Chevron [corporate website] after the company reported a new leak [press release] in its Frade oil field in the Campos Basin. Eduardo Santos de Oliviera filed the first lawsuit after a 2,400 barrel oil spill [Global Voices backgrounder] polluted the Campos Basin last November. A month earlier the same prosecutor filed environmental criminal charges against the oil company related to the November oil spill alleging that the accused committed willful or negligent conduct causing the spill. During the same month, 35 Nigerian villages filed suit [JURIST report] against Shell [corporate website] in a London court alleging Shell's slow response in cleaning up two oil spills in a neighboring river ruined their livelihoods. A similar suit was filed in November of last year by a Nigerian village against Royal Dutch Shell PLC in the US District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan [official website]. The suit was based on the report released by UNEP last year.

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