[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] revealed court documents [complaint, PDF] Thursday indicating Shell repeatedly underestimated [press release] the impact of two oil spills in Bodo, Nigeria. The documents were part of claims brought forth in a UK court by more than 15,000 people affected by oil pollution. In joint investigation reports, which determine compensation handed to communities after a spill, Shell claimed the two oil spills in October and December 2008 resulted in the discharge of about 4,000 barrels of oil combined. AI believes, however, there were more than 100,000 barrels of oil spilled in the two incidents. Shell also claimed that third parties’ illegal bunkering and refining led to much of the damage in the area, but the court documents refute this, saying the illegal activity began in 2009 “in direct response to the devastation caused by the oil spills” and caused very minimal damage when compared with the original spills. Additionally, the claim asserts that Shell knew the pipelines, which were installed in 1963, should have been replaced for years before 2008, but failed to do so and continued to pump oil through the old pipelines. The oil spills resulted [BBC report] in the the death of organisms and plants, as well a decline to the fishing industry and destruction of homes.
Shell has previously faced legal action in the UK, Netherlands and Nigeria for these oil spills and other cases. In 2012 35 Nigerian villages brought a suit against Shell in a London court alleging [JURIST report] Shell’s slow response in cleaning up two oil spills in a neighboring river. The villages claimed there was continued contamination due to the inadequate clean-up process following the spill. Also in 2012 four Nigerian residents and an advocacy group told a Dutch court that Shell should be held liable [JURIST report] for damage from oil pollution in the Niger Delta. A USD $15.5 million settlement [JURIST report] was reached in 2009 between Royal Dutch Shell PLC and the families of nine Nigerian activists who were killed in 1995. A Nigerian court in the southern city of Port Harcourt ordered [JURIST report] Royal Dutch Shell to pay $1.5 billion in 2006 to compensate local communities for environmental pollution caused by the company’s activities in the southern Niger delta region