Amnesty International announced yesterday that its ground-breaking research project has exposed evidence of serious negligence by oil giants, Shell and Eni, as their irresponsible approach to oil spills in the Niger Delta is exacerbating an environmental crisis.
Through the Decoders network, an innovative platform developed by Amnesty International to crowd source human rights research, the organisation enlisted thousands of supporters and activists to collect data about oil spills in the Niger Delta.
Their findings were then analysed by Amnesty International’s researchers and verified by Accufacts, an independent pipelines expert.
According to this publicly available data, Amnesty International found that Shell and Eni were taking weeks to respond to reports of spills and publishing misleading information about the cause and severity of spills, which may result in communities not receiving compensation.
“Shell and Eni claim they are doing everything they can to prevent oil spills but Decoders’ research suggests otherwise. They found that the companies often ignore reports of oil spills for months on end– on one occasion Eni took more than a year to respond.”
“The Niger Delta is one of the most polluted places on earth and it beggars belief that the companies responsible are still displaying this level of negligence.”
“Adding insult to injury is the fact that Shell and Eni seem to be publishing unreliable information about the cause and extent of spills. The people of the Niger Delta have paid the price for Shell and Eni’s recklessness for too long. Thanks to Decoders, we’re a step closer to bringing them to account”, said Mark Dummett, Business and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.
The Amnesty International, therefore, asked the Nigerian government to re-open investigations into 89 oil spills, said a statement issued by the Amnesty international on Thursday.
The statement detailed the following findings among others: “Decoders collected information about the contents of the reports that Shell and Eni publish each time they visit the site of an oil spill. These reports detail the likely cause, location and extent of the damage, and are often accompanied by photographs. They are important because companies pay compensation to affected communities based on this information.
“Previous research by Amnesty International has revealed that the information in these reports is often inaccurate. For example, Shell massively understated the amount of oil spilt in the fishing town of Bodo between 2008 and 2009. With the help of Amnesty International, the Bodo community eventually took legal action, forcing Shell to admit the real amount and pay £55 million in compensation.”
“To help other communities like Bodo, Amnesty International needed to analyse masses of publicly available data about oil spills, and enlisted activists from around the world to help. A total of 3,545 people, from 142 countries, took part in Decode Oil Spills. They answered 163,063 individual questions about reports and photographs and worked 1,300 hours – the equivalent of someone working full-time for eight months.”