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Nigerian farmers sue oil giant Shell

Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 02:03

Oct. 11 - Royal Dutch Shell is in court in the Hague after farmers from the Niger Delta brought a civil case for the damage caused by oil leaks between 2004 and 2005. It's the first time a multinational has been taken to court in its own country. Joanne Nicholson reports

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The Niger Delta has long been a battle ground between oil giants and local residents. 31 million people live there and it's one of the world's most important wetland and coastal marine ecosystems. Now, four Nigerian farmers have brought a case against Royal Dutch Shell for the oil leakages they say have prevented them from feeding their families. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NIGERIAN PLAINTIFF, ERIC DOOH, SAYING: "Communities in Oguniland had been badly contaminated. Some communities are deserted, like my community, Goi in Oguniland has been deserted as a result of devastation of the ecosystem and our environment. My father had four big fish farms." The men have taken their case to a court in the Hague. They accuse Royal Dutch Shell of being responsible for three spills between 2004 and 2005. The want pipelines repaired and maintained and for compensation to be paid. They're being backed by Friends of the Earth. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRIENDS OF THE EARTH CO-ORDINATOR, GERRIT RITSEMA, SAYING: "What we expect today is that outcome of this case will be that Shell is convicted for polluting the environment, for not properly maintaining its pipelines in Nigeria and for harming millions of people, polluting their drinking water, depleting their fish stocks, ruining their crops lands as a result of oil pollution." Royal Dutch Shell says it's confused by the claims. It says the Nigerian government, along with the community and company officials investigated the leak and found it was caused by sabotage. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SHELL VICE PRESIDENT FOR ENVIRONMENT ALLARD CASTELEIN SAYING: "United Nations environment programme last year in August released their report which clearly stipulated that the big problem in the Niger Delta actually concerns illegal refining and theft of oil." But the UN also said oil companies including Shell, were partly responsible for 50 years of oil pollution in the Ogoniland region. It's the first time a multinatioanl has been taken to court in its own country over pollution elsewhere. If the farmers win there could be many more cases. Joanne Nicholson, Reuters

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Nigerian farmers sue oil giant Shell

Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 02:03