Home Environment THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSAULT COMMITTED BY SHELL IN RIVERS COMMUNITIES

THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSAULT COMMITTED BY SHELL IN RIVERS COMMUNITIES

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PRESS STATEMENT IN COMMEMORATION OF THE WORLD PRESS FREEDOM
DAY: THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSAULT COMMITTED BY SHELL IN RIVERS
COMMUNITIES

There is a threat to sustainable development in the Niger Delta. The environmental crisis of air pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change have become significant challenges for people and communities. This is the reason Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre uses the occasion of World Press Freedom Day to provide updates on key environmental injustice cases in Rivers state. This is necessary to prevent misinformation and disinformation by people who do not understand the issues. It is important to note that the information ecosystem is crucial.

The theme of the 2024 World Press Freedom Day is “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of Environmental Crisis” and it is dedicated to the importance of journalism and freedom of expression in the context of the current global environmental crisis. Given this, Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre, with her allied organizations presents the environmental pollution issues in Ibaa and Obelle communities in Emohua local government area and Aminigboko community in Abua/Odual local government area.

In 2016, people in Chukwure family compound discovered that their hand-dug well was filled with crude oil instead of water that it was producing until that fateful period. The case was reported to Shell the corporation carrying out activities in the locality. The family has been worried and concerned over their fate of living in such a level of pollution. Part of the response by Shell to advocacy efforts to get justice for the family is Shell sealing off the affected well. A visit to the site on May 2nd, 2024 showed that some families still live with the pollution. The family wants to be relocated to somewhere safe and secured and compensation paid for damages so far suffered
by family members.

Obelle community of Emuoha Local Government Area, Rivers State, is one of the sites where Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) carries out its oil extraction activities. In 1998 the well-4 head operated by Shell erupted with a gas fire, burning over thirty hectares of land, in the community for about 3 months. And after burning for some weeks, SPDC added some chemicals to control it. The chemicals were washed into the community’s aquifer, resulting in impacts on the
people’s health and their source of livelihood. The only solution proffered by SPDC was to acquire these lands without alternative provisions for farming. There was no compensation made to the community and the people have suffered untold hardship as a result of the insufficient land to carry out their farming activities and women are the worst hit in terms of displacement.

Cases of environmental pollution are also reported in Aminigboko community, where environmental impact assessment is also under contention by community members. The issues have been reported to the Dutch National Contact Point, who intervened and made recommendations. The company has outrightly refused to address the issues since 10th February 2023 when the recommendation was made. Kebetkache in 2022 had conducted an environmental and socio-economic assessment in Ibaa community and the key findings from the field revealed a widespread crude oil contamination in the seven groundwater and four oil samples.

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