Four Nigerian farmers and the environmental group Friends of the Earth took oil giant Shell to court Thursday in the Netherlands to demand a proper cleanup and compensation for pollution in the Niger Delta.
The farmers want the Anglo-Dutch multinational to "clean up the oil pollution in their fields and fishponds" and make sure their pipelines are maintained and kept secure to prevent leaks in the future.
The civil case has been filed against the Nigerian subsidiary of Shell, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), and its international headquarters in the Netherlands, Royal Dutch Shell.
Based on "years of oil pollution in three villages in the Niger Delta," it could have "major legal consequences internationally," the Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth, known locally as Milieudefensie, said in a statement ahead of the first hearing.
The three villages concerned are Goi, hit by a spill in 2004, Oruma, affected by a spill a year later, and Ikot Ada Udo, hit by various spills in 2007, according to Friends of the Earth.
Shell argues that it has cleaned up the spills to the satisfaction of the Nigerian authorities, and has no case to answer.
But Friends of the Earth says that oil pollution has had a devastating and continuing impact on vegetation, water supplies and local fishing ponds.
The campaign group says this is the first time a Dutch company has been brought before a court in the Netherlands over environmental damage caused abroad.via www.cnn.com