The deal, which ends a three-year legal battle, is the first of its kind in the West African country.
According to reports, 15,600 Nigerian fishermen from the Bodo community will receive $3 300 each for losses caused by the spills.
From the outset, we’ve accepted responsibility for the two deeply regrettable operational spills in Bodo
The remaining $30 million will be given to the community.
The settlement was announced by the Anglo-Dutch oil giant’s Nigerian subsidiary SPDC.
“From the outset, we’ve accepted responsibility for the two deeply regrettable operational spills in Bodo,” SPDC’s managing director Mutiu Sunmonu told reporters.
Bodo community was “devastated by the two massive oil spills in 2008 and 2009”.
Shell says that both spills were caused by operational failure of the pipelines. Thousands of hectares of mangrove were affected.
The victims of Bodo community were represented by the law firm Leigh Day.
According to Shell, earlier settlement efforts had been hampered “by divisions within the community”.
Shell also pledged to clean up the Bodo Creek over the next few months.
Leigh Day described the settlement as one of the largest payouts to an entire community after devastating environmental damage.
“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 said in a press release.
Leigh Day also said it was “deeply disappointing that Shell took six years to take this case seriously and to recognize the true extent of the damage these spills caused to the environment and to those who rely on it for their livelihood”.
Following the Shell spills in 2008 and 2009, Amnesty International gathered that the price of fish, a local staple food, rose as much as tenfold and many fishermen had to find alternative ways to make a living.
An unconnected United Nations study showed that local drinking water sources were also contaminated.
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