The first judgment in what lawyers have said could be the “largest ever” environmental trial will be handed down today, Friday.
This will set the parameters for a lawsuit against energy giant Shell brought by 15,000 Nigerians from the Bodo community in the Niger Delta. The community was devastated by two massive spills in 2008 and 2009 from a Shell pipeline.
Amnesty International has been campaigning for over 5 years for Shell to clean up the environmental damage it has caused, which has destroyed livelihoods and jeopardized the health of thousands of people living near Shell’s oil facilities in the Niger Delta.
“For more than five years the people of Bodo have been living day by day with the devastating consequences of these spills,” said Joe Westby, Amnesty International’s Corporate Accountability Campaigner.
Westby notes that the hope was for today’s judgment to pave the way – finally – to justice for the deprivations the Bodo community has had to suffer.
The trial on the merits of the case is expected to take place at the High Court in London in May 2015. The case is the first time Shell has faced formal proceedings in the UK for its role in the Niger Delta pollution.
Shell is expected to argue that it is not responsible for ongoing pollution in Bodo. The company claims it has done its best to clean up the area, but that there have since been other spills, caused by thieves attempting to siphon oil from the pipeline.
In its 2013 report, ‘Bad Information: Oil Spill Investigations in the Niger Delta’, Amnesty International exposed much of Shell’s claims on oil pollution in the region as “deeply suspect and often untrue”.