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The oilcompany says up to 40, 000 barrels of crude oil was spilled 75 miles off thecoast of the Niger deltaguardian.co.uk, John Vidal, Environment editor, Thursday 22 December 2011An oil spill on the shores of the Niger Delta swamps. Shell has said the recent oil spill is likely to be worst in a decade. Photograph: PiusUtomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty ImagesNigeriancoastal and fishing communities were on Thursday put on alert after Shelladmitted to an oil spill that is likely to be the worst in the area for adecade, according to government officials..The companysaid up to 40, 000 barrels of crude oil was spilled on Wednesday while it wastransferred from a floating oil platform to a tanker 75 miles off the coast ofthe Niger delta.Allproduction from the Bonga field, which produces around 200, 000 barrels a day, was last night suspended. "Early indications show that less than 40, 000barrels of oil have leaked in total. Spill response procedures have beeninitiated and emergency control and spill risk procedures are up andrunning, " said Tony Okonedo, a Shell Nigeria spokesman.Satellitepictures obtained by independent monitors Skytruth suggested that the spill was70km-long and was spread over 923 square kilometers (356 sq miles) .But aleading Nigerian human rights group said Shell's figures about the quantity ofoil spilled or the clean-up could not be relied on. "Shell says 40, 000barrels were spilled and production was shut but we do not trust them becausepast incidents show that the company consistently under-reports the amounts andimpacts of its carelessness, " said Nnimmo Bassey, head of Environmental Rights Action, based in Lagos."Weare alerting fisher folks and coastal communities to be on the look out. Itjust adds to the list of Shell's environmental atrocities in the Nigerdelta."The spill, one of the worst off the coast of Nigeria in 10 years, is particularlyembarrassing for Shell, coming only four months after a major UN study said itcould take Shell and other oil companies 30 years and $1bn to clean spills inOgoniland, one small part of the oil-rich delta. The company also admittedresponsibility in August for two major spills in the Bodo region of the deltathat took place in 2008, but has yet to pay compensation.Shell, which works in partnership with the Nigerian government in the delta, claimsthat 98% of all its oil spills are caused by vandalism, theft or sabotage bymilitants and only a minimal amount by deteriorating infrastructure. Butthis is disputed by communities.YesterdayShell said it had also closed a Gulf of Mexico deep drilling operation afterspilling 319 barrels of contaminated fluids.thursday 22 december 2011 h15:28 (UTC) posted by: cempaka-marine (read the original post) tag: environment | netherlands | pollution | uk