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Background to the Bodo claim

Following two enormous oil spills that occurred in Bodo in late 2008, Leigh Day is bringing a claim in the High Court to ensure that members of the Bodo community receive adequate compensation for the damage caused by the oil spills and to ensure that the Bodo area is properly cleaned up and remediated.

Shell has accepted that it was responsible for both of these spills but says that the volume of oil spilt was about 4,000 barrels and that only 36 hectares were impacted.  SPDC’s pipelines running through Bodo are nearly 50 years old and have not been maintained or inspected properly by SPDC. Both spills continued to pour oil out into the environment for weeks even after SPDC had been alerted to the oil spills.

The amount of oil spilt is estimated by the Claimants’ experts to be as large as the spill following the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989.  They state that Bodo spill has caused the largest loss of mangrove habitat by oil pollution in history.  The oil spills resulted in massive contamination of the creek, rivers and waterways in the Bodo area and devastated the local mangroves, fauna, wildlife and fishing stocks.

In 2011, Shell reported global annual earnings of £18bn – more than £2m an hour. Shell’s Chief Executive was paid £10.4m in 2011, some of which was in the form of a bonus awarded on the basis of “operational excellence”.  

By contrast, the Bodo community is a rural coastal settlement, which consists of approximately 50,000 people who live in 35 villages.  The majority of its inhabitants lived as subsistence fishermen and farmers until the two oil spills.  The Bodo community that has been devastated by these oil spills is one of the poorest in the world.  Bodo is an environmentally sensitive area and the way of life of the local people depends on the natural environment.  Community members are no longer able to fish locally to make a living.

Following the disaster, Shell offered the Bodo community bags of rice, beans, sugar and tomatoes as relief.  SPDC has still not offered an acceptable amount of compensation to this impoverished community, whose environment and livelihoods have been destroyed by the two oil spills.

Leigh Day is working to make sure that members of the Bodo community are adequately compensated and that Shell carries out a full and effective clean-up of the impacted areas.

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