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A New Oil Spill at a Shell Facility in Nigeria has Contaminated Farmland and a River

The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency told reporters that the spill came from the Trans-Niger Pipeline operated by Shell that crosses through communities in the Eleme area of Ogoniland, a region where the London-based energy giant has faced decades-long local pushback for its oil exploration. The volume of oil spilt has not been determined, but activists have published images of polluted farmland and water surfaces blighted by oil sheens and dead fish mired in sticky crude. While spills are frequent in the region due to vandalism and a lack of maintenance to pipelines, according to the UN Environmental Programme, activists call this a “major one”. The leak has been contained, but treating the fallout from the spill at farms and the Okulu River, which runs through communities, has stalled. The apparent deadlock stems from mistrust and past grievances in the riverine and oil-abundant Niger Delta region, which is mostly home to minority ethnic groups who accuse the Nigerian government of marginalisation. Shell stopped production in Ogoniland more than 20 years ago amid deadly unrest from residents protesting environmental damage, but the Trans-Niger Pipeline still sends crude from oil fields in other areas through the region’s communities to export terminals.