Published on
by
Common Dreams

Shell Faces Landmark Lawsuit over Years of Oil Spills

Nigerian farmers sue Shell in Dutch court

by
Common Dreams staff

Oil spill polluting groundwater and ruining cropland, from a well owned by Shell (Photo: Ed Kashi/Corbis)

Paving a path for ordinary citizens to sue foreign multinational companies in their home countries, Nigerian farmers faced Royal Dutch Shell in a Dutch court today over a history of devastating oil spills in the Niger Delta. The landmark case is the first time the Dutch company has faced legal repercussions in its home country from foreign plaintiffs, opening possibilities for similar lawsuits around the world.

A verdict will be given early next year in the precedent setting case.

"If you are drinking water you are drinking crude, if you are eating fish, you are eating crude, if you are breathing, you are breathing crude," said one of the plaintiffs, Eric Dooh, outside court, referring to the prevalent pollution in the oil rich region.

The case, brought by four Nigerian farmers and fisherman and Friends of the Earth International, is an attempt to hold Shell accountable for leaking and corroded oil pipelines in the Niger Delta that lead to three oil spills between 2004 and 2007. “Due to the poor maintenance of its pipelines and infrastructure," Shell's negligence has lead to tens of millions of barrels of oil to leak into the once pristine Niger Delta, and has lead to "disastrous consequences for local people and the environment," Friends of the Earth writes today.

Lawyers for both parties pleaded their arguments at The Hague today. The court announced that a verdict should be expected on January 30, 2013.

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

The media landscape is changing fast

Our news team is changing too as we work hard to bring you the news that matters most.

Change is coming. And we've got it covered.

“A positive verdict will have groundbreaking legal repercussions. It will allow victims of multinational corporations in developing countries to obtain justice in Europe,“ says Geert Ritsema, globalization campaign leader at Friends of the Earth Netherlands / Milieudefensie.

"My community is a ghost land as a result of the devastation. We had good vegetation. Today people have respiratory problems and are getting sick," Dooh continued, who lives in the Goi community of the Niger Delta that sits between two pipelines.

"Shell is aware of the whole devastation. I want them to pay compensation, to clean up the pollution so we can grow our crops and fish again."

We want a more open and sharing world.

That's why our content is free. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported.

All of our original content is published under Creative Commons—allowing (and encouraging) our articles to be republished freely anywhere. In addition to the traffic and reach our content generates on our site, the multiplying impact of our work is huge and growing as our articles flourish across the Internet and are republished by other large and small online and print outlets around the world.

Several times a year we run brief campaigns to ask our readers to pitch in—and thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Our 2019 Mid-Year Campaign is underway. Can you help? We can't do it without you.

Share This Article

More in: