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Description of the case – Facts

January 15, 1999 was a sunny day in Magdalena, Argentina, with excellent climate conditions and visibility in the Rio de la Plata. Nevertheless, the ship Sea Parana and the ship Estrella Pampeana collisioned near the shores of Magdalena, a small town of approximately 8.000 habitants, generating a spill of 5,400,400 litres of oil.

During 2 days the oil was floating on the river. By the night of the second day, a storm delivered the unrecovered oil to the shores of Magdalena.

Some habitants of Magdalena even swam into the oily water to save “their” shores, the flora and the fauna.

That was the origin of the major oil spill in fresh water in the history of mankind.

The Municipality of Magdalena and some groups of habitants of the small town initiated claims against Shell (owner of the oil and the ship). Several procedural issues are delaying such claims.

However, in 2003, a federal Court ordered Shell to cure the shores.

Many habitants of Magdalena were under age at the moment of the oil spill and are now still waiting for justice to decide on their claim.

A great damage to the flora and fauna of the place was generated. The shores of Magdalena were declared World Reserve for the Biosfera, by the UNESCO.

Many habitants of Magdalena joint a claim by which more than 500 of them are claiming to be indemnified and for the shores to be cured.

The small town lost its touristic quality and, thereafter, its main source of inflows. The number of cancer cases increased and some babies died, as it is stated in many claims with the Courts.

Despite all that, Shell denies that his oil caused any damage or contamination.

The environmental NGO Ala Plastica, stated in May 2009 that there is still contamination and damage in the shores of Magdalena as a result of 1999 oil spill.



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