Niger Delta, Nigeria is home to the biggest oil spill in the world.
400 million gallons of oil have been spilled as a result of reckless oil production. An area half the size of Florida is completely contaminated. Royal Dutch Shell is the biggest contributor to this historic pollution; they own and operate 50 percent of all the oil wells and pipelines in the area.
Friends of the Earth Netherlands and OneBigAgency have teamed up in creating the “Worse than Bad” campaign, which asks individuals to help put pressure on Shell to take responsibility for its pollution in the Niger Delta at its annual shareholders’ meeting on May 22nd.
“I was born in this community, Goi community,” said Veronica who chose not to reveal her last name. “We used to live there, but today, there is nobody there. Because of this spill, we deserted the place. You can see that human beings cannot live in this kind of environment. What we are breathing in is hazardous to life.”
Veronica said in a nearby river, there used to be crocodiles, but the oil pollution has killed all of them.
“They have died and gone,” said Veronica. “If it were in those good days, you’d see the crayfish moving, but (now) nothing. No aquatic life can survive here. We used to have monkeys. The monkeys used to jump on these palm fruit, but today there are no more. They have all disappeared. They’re gone.”
Veronica said because of the devastation caused by Shell, she and her people are now refugees in other neighboring villages.
“Shell has not cleaned anything,” said Veronica. “Shell does not even care about the people, because we are not human beings, we are semi human beings. (Shell thinks) we should die that way. I don’t feel happy about it. We are really suffering. That is inhumanity to human beings.”
Agnes Dukor said the pond where she would fish in order to make a living is heavily polluted and the fish have all died.
“All the fish that (were) here died,” said Dukor. “This pond was our living. But since this (spill) happened, up ‘til this day, we don’t have any income and there is nothing we can do. We called Shell. They came here and took the sample (of the pond) and left. They have done nothing (for) us.”
“Over some time now there have been several leakages along (the Shell) pipeline,” said Sebastian Kpalap of Gali in Elem. “The most massive of all of them was in 2006, where everything about the ecosystem here was destroyed. For several years, there was no vegetation in the whole of this place.”
Kpalap said a UNEP report put benzene levels in this water at 900 times more then World Health Organization standards.
“I didn’t know what to do because I still need water to cook our food, to bathe and to do other things,” said Kpalap. “I cannot afford to buy all the water I need. It’s like you have been told that you are slowly dying.”
Kpalap said he still drinking the polluted water because he has no other alternative.
“Every man, every woman (here) is a fisherman,” said Chief Saint Emmah Pii of Bodo City. “It was a great economy. We were self-sustained, (and) we could contain ourselves. But from this spill our means of life was destroyed totally.”
The chief said Shell has operations within the community in Bodo City, and there have been two major oil spills between 2008 and 2009, which completely destroyed the environmental system of my community.
“There is no life in the water, there’s no farmland. We are like refugees in our communities now,” said Pii. “Oil has destroyed everything.”
Pii’s message to the Western World is basic.
“(Tell them) we are all human beings,” said. Pii “We should be able to protect one another. And by the time all of us here die from (Shell’s) pollution, I think the world will ask them why they refused (to help).”