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 Gulf spill a familiar story in oil-soaked Nigeria

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PostSubject: Gulf spill a familiar story in oil-soaked Nigeria   Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:45 am

Gulf spill a familiar story in oil-soaked Nigeria

JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press Writer

While the world is transfixed by the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, oil spills have become a part of everyday life during the 50 years that foreign firms have been pumping out Nigeria's easily refined fuel. Environmentalists estimate as much as 550 million gallons of oil have poured into the Niger River Delta during that time — at a rate roughly comparable to one Exxon Valdez disaster per year.

According to government figures, Nigeria suffered more than 6,800 oil spills from 1976 through 2001, losing some 130 million gallons — 3 million barrels.

Under the worst-case scenario, the Gulf Coast spill is sending 2.5 million gallons a day into the ocean where the offshore rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20.

Environmentalists say the Nigerian government figures don't include what is lost in attacks by militants demanding a bigger share of the profits for the delta region, and in communities too remote or dangerous to enter.

As the tide ebbs at Bodo City, a town in Ogoniland, exposed mangrove roots drip black from spilled crude. There are no birds in the sky or fish in the creeks.

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