Oil giant, Royal Dutch Shell is set to make a payout of $84 million (N15,493,809,854.06) to residents of the Bodo community in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria following two oil spills.
15,600 fishermen will receive $3,300 each for losses caused by the spills while the remaining $30 million will be donated to the community, Law Firm, Leigh Day, which represented the fishermen, said.
According to BBC, the lawyers have said that they are delighted at the massive payout which is the first of its kind and will serve to compensate the community which was “devastated by the two massive oil spills in 2008 and 2009”.
The lawyers also expressed their pleasure at the fact that their clients will receive the money in their personal accounts.
“It is the first time that compensation has been paid following an oil spill in Nigeria to the thousands of individuals who have suffered loss,” the firm, Leigh Day said in a press release confirming the settlement.
“What they feel particularly pleased about is that the individual money is going to them personally. In Nigeria mostly what happens is that chiefs bring claims on behalf of the community, the chiefs then get the compensation and the individuals seem hardly ever to see much of it.” Lawyer, Martyn Day said.
"So I think they're very pleased that we've been able to set up for them individual bank accounts,” he added.
Martyn Day also stated that it was “deeply disappointing that Shell took six years to take this case seriously and to recognise the true extent of the damage these spills caused to the environment and to those who rely on it for their livelihood”.
The settlement was announced by the Managing Director of Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, Mutiu Sunmonu.
“From the outset, we've accepted responsibility for the two deeply regrettable operational spills in Bodo,” Sunmonu said.
Shell blamed both spills on operational failure of the pipelines saying that the extent of environmental pollution in the area is caused by “the scourge of oil theft and illegal refining”.
Shell has, in addition to the settlement, also pledged to clean up the Bodo Creek over the next few months.