Slippery turf

Published: Sunday 15 February 2004

Stoking a row (Credit: ERA / FOEN)Where does fact end and fiction begin? An oil spill in the southern Nigerian swamp led to the destruction of over 200 hectares of forest and agricultural land. This is the third time in the last month that such an incident has occurred. Residents allege that Shell petroleum company is responsible for the oil spillage which was detected in December 2003, but not cleaned up. The company, for its part, claims it has no access to the unused pipe from which the crude oil leaks, and suspects this could be the handiwork of arsonists.

Although Nigeria pumps opec's crude oil, the spill site is one of the poorest areas of the country. Oil spills are a frequent feature in the region. Residents suffer heavy losses in these incidents. Shell says that while a contractor tried to contain the spillage, community members stopped him.

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