A 13-year environmental justice trial has finally come to a close with a long-awaited victory for four Nigerian farmers harmed by oil spills at the hands of Shell Nigeria. The company has been ordered by a Dutch court to compensate the farmers for oil spills that polluted their land in 2004 and 2005.
The spills occurred in the two villages of Goi and Oruma. The case began to gain traction in 2015 after The Hague appeals court ruled that Dutch courts had jurisdiction over the case. In addition to compensation for losses related to the oil spill, the court also ruled that the company had not done enough in subsequent years to clean up the spills. Shell’s parent company, Royal Dutch Shell, has also been ordered to install warning equipment on its pipelines in Oruma to prevent the severity of future spills.
The Niger Delta has been a site of heavy oil drilling and subsequent pollution of water and land in the region for decades. Unfortunately, conflicts of interest between private drilling companies and government officials have contributed to increased environmental degradation and exploitation.
This case is a small but monumental victory for the citizens directly harmed by these invasive drilling practices. Eric Doo, one of the farmers involved, told The Guardian, “Finally, there is some justice for the Nigerian people suffering the consequences of Shell’s oil. This verdict brings hope for the future of the people in the Niger Delta.”