Poison Fire

29 minutes 9.0/10 based on 3 votes

This film by Lars Johansson is about Shell and the Niger Delta, a vast swamp in Nigeria where the River Niger meets the Atlantic Ocean. The locals believe that gods used to inhabit the water and air in this place. They believe that the gas and oil drills have driven these gods far away. Now these angry gods have possessed some of the young men who in turn have produced violence and anger in the Niger Delta where about 20 million people live.

In 1956, Shell drilled the first oil well in a village called Oloibiri. Today Nigeria is the eighth biggest oil exporter in the world. However, they aren’t really proud of this fact because from the time oil was found, people have known no peace in the Delta. Instead of making them rich, the drills have actually destroyed the environment and produced disease and poverty. Many women have miscarried and small children suffer from strange skin infections. Food sources like fish, lobster, crabs, crayfish and even edible roots and plants either die or are severely contaminated. This is a tragic situation because most of these communities rely on fishing and farming for sustenance.

Every day two million barrels of oil are pumped up from below the earth in the Delta. The oil comes up mixed with natural gas, which is then burnt off with flares. This process releases as much greenhouse gases as that produced by 18 million cars. The health problems caused by these fires is great. The people complain of stinging or itching of their skin, losing the sense of taste, and even numbness of the tongue and lips. These fires also cause acid rain and emit substances known to produce respiratory problems and even cancer.

There have been 5,000 major oil spills in the Delta in the last fifty years with one and a half million tons of oil being dispersed into creeks, farms and forests.

The communities have protested against the damage to the environment for many decades with no success because Shell and the government seem to be involved in a sick game in which they throw the ball at each other and never come up with a viable solution. This documentary was filmed in the hope that social media will help spread the word about what’s going on in Nigeria. Meanwhile, the people who live in the Niger Delta continue to suffer abuse and neglect at the hands of this powerful company. Watch this now.

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