Of Spills and Spin

That BP covered up its worst-case scenario of gushing 100,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico simply confirms what many people living in Nigeria’s oil region have long protested about.

In the Niger Delta, companies like Shell routinely under-report spill figures and volumes to limit their liabilities in terms of fines and diminish the amount of compensation owed to victims in local communities. When faced with environmental disasters, oil companies will do anything to avoid responsibility, even if that means telling blatant lies.

The consequence is that nobody in Nigeria knows exactly how many oil spills there are or how much oil is spilled. The real figures may be much higher than even the most reliable (conservative) estimates. Companies keep their data secret, but if the real figures were ever known, the potential liability facing oil companies could be enormous. Elsewhere, Chevron for instance, is facing a $27 billion lawsuit after being accused of 26 years of dumping toxic waste in the Amazon…



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