Shell faces legal action by farmers

Nigerian farmers are suing Shell in a Dutch court, asking judges to order the oil giant to clean up environmental damage they claim is caused by leaking pipes.

The case in The Hague Civil Court is a legal landmark in the Netherlands as it is the first time a Dutch company has been sued for alleged environmental mismanagement caused by an overseas subsidiary.

Royal Dutch Shell long argued that the case should be heard in Nigeria.

Villagers say the June 2005 leak fouled fish ponds, farmland and forests in Oruma, in the Niger Delta. They claim Shell took 12 days to seal the leaking pipe.

Villagers blame the leak on corrosion of the pressurised underground pipe. Shell claims it was caused by sabotage.