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Shell to Compensate Nigerians For Oil Spill
Native Nigerian subsistence farmers and fisherman are asking Shell to compensate them for destroying their habitat with an oil spill. The mangrove forest that the community depended on has been destroyed, along with their livelihoods. The largest loss of mangrove habitat was caused by an oil spill that effected about “30,00 inhabitants in the Niger Delta area,” according to Find Law. Royal Dutch Shell has “admitted responsibility for the two spills,” but they are disputing the impact it has had on the 15,000 people from the community that filed the lawsuit in 2012.
Mangrove is very important as they have so many environmental benefits to the land and biosphere they inhabit. Notably, mangrove trees grab the soil tightly and minimize coastal erosion. Mangrove trees also are natural carbon sinks, and they hold are capable of neutralizing many tons of carbon per tree annually. Hundreds of species live in the mangrove forests that are very protective to them. Fish nurseries, turtle eggs, and endangered bird nests are all found in Mangrove forests. The elaborate root systems that are above and below the waterline cool the trees and their areas, shadowing otherwise super hot areas and making them cooler. This is important in places with extreme heat and mineral deficient topsoil. The trees can survive intense heat, and doesn’t need as much water to survive as other trees. It also filter the saltwater that they live in, causing a brackish or desalinized area which can bring in more plant an animal species furthering the diversity of the biosphere that the tree lives in. It truly is a remarkable tree. Destruction of a mangrove forest through oil is a sad situation indeed.
International and human rights lawyer of Leigh Day, Daniel Leader commented, “these people, since 2008 they are living on a creek of oil. You step out of the front door you see oil, breathe in oil and toxic fumes.” Leigh Day went on to say that the compensation given to the people will be “based on the financial loss that the people have suffered because of the spill in the lagoon.” Leigh Day continues to comment that the people were subsistence farmers and fishermen, and that they had been prosperous until this happened. Their environment is destroyed. “Those communities are still having water shipped into them. But its patchy, and we fear many of those communities are drinking from poisoned wells.”
The United Nations has recommended Shell to pay out $1 billion dollars in a 30 year cleanup program. Shell themselves are consider a $20 million dollar payout to the villagers, and the villagers, whose lifestyles and prosperity is gone, ask for $200 million. Whatever happens, the deal is will likely close by the week’s end.