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A Hyprep remediation site in Eleme, near Port Harcourt, in 2019.

A Hyprep remediation site in Eleme, near Port Harcourt, in 2019.

 Photographer: Yasuyoshi China/AFP/Getty Images

Green
The Big Take

One of World’s Most Polluted Spots Gets Worse as $1 Billion Cleanup Drags On

Mismanagement, waste and lack of transparency are making the cleanup in the Niger Delta’s Ogoniland anything but exemplary, UN reports indicate.

In the more than a quarter century since Shell Plc left Ogoniland in southern Nigeria, oil has continued to ooze from dormant wellheads and active pipelines, leaving the 386-square mile kingdom’s wetlands shimmering with a greasy rainbow sheen, its once-lush mangroves coated in crude, well-water smelling of benzene and farmlands charred and barren.   

So when the $1 billion Ogoniland cleanup began in 2019, backed by Shell’s funding pledge and support from the United Nations, it was heralded as the most ambitious initiative of its kind anywhere in the world. But now, UN Environmental Programme documents seen by Bloomberg and reported for the first time indicate that the project — far from being exemplary — is making one of the earth’s most polluted regions even dirtier.