The coast of Nigeria near the city of Lagos has just experienced its worst oil spill in more than a decade, thanks to Shell Oil. Around 40,000 barrels of crude were spilled into the Delta at Bonga Field. This spill, which occurred Wednesday, is on par with the epic ExxonMobil oil spill that occurred in 1998.

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Around 75 miles off the coast of Nigeria, the Bonga Field is responsible for producing 200,000 barrels of oilper day. The leak, which occurred when transporting the oil from a platform to a tanker, reached the shoreline, flooding the entire coast with oil, past Nigerian lines. Thus far, the entire expanse of the spill reached 356 square miles, covering a length of 45 miles.

But Nigerian human rights groups are skeptical about the numbers, claiming that Shell and other oil companies are known to underestimate the actual spillage when reporting to the public and that the spill likely greatly exceeds the reported 40,000 barrels. The spill is an incredible hazard to the fishing community of Nigeria, in addition to the coastal settlements.

Production at the Bonga Field was suspended last night, and Shell says it has begun the clean up process of this latest spill. A less extreme spill by a Shell tanker occurred on the same Nigerian delta in 2008 and has yet to be completely cleaned up. The 2008 spill is estimated to need up to 30 years to completely clean. It is still unknown just how long this bigger, newer spill will take to clean up and return the ecological and marine environment in the area to safe measures.

Via Treehugger

Lead Image via Platform London