PRESS RELEASE

Community People Demand Answers from Shell at Annual General Meeting in The Hague and London

The Hague, The Netherlands; 26 June 2005 - On 27 June, the eve of Shell’s Annual General meeting, representatives from the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) [1] and groundWork [2] join community people from Niger Delta (Nigeria), Sao Paolo (Brazil), Sakhalin (Russian Federation), County Mayo (Ireland), Pandacan (Philippines), Curacao (Netherlands Antilles), Port Arthur (Texas, USA), and Norco (Louisiana, USA) demanding answers and action from Shell to stop their global pollution of community neighbourhoods.

This comes in the wake of the Chairman of Shell, Lord Oxburgh, visiting the south Durban area and declaring that the Shell oil refinery infrastructure in the south Durban area is ageing.

Friends of the Earth [3] and fenceline communities impacted by Shell’s operations will launch a report entitled “Lessons not Learned – The Other Shell Report 2004” (see attachment) as well as a key set of demands to the company to improve local conditions in south Durban [4]. This alternative annual report highlights the destructive impacts of Shell’s activities around the world. The shadow-report on the Dutch-British multinational will be simultaneously presented in London and The Hague. As in The Hague, community representatives and Friends of the Earth in London will tell the ‘other story’ about Shell, by launching the report and attending the AGM.

The report reviews the past year and contains nine cases of the damage inflicted upon people and the environment by Shell’s activities in the Niger Delta (Nigeria), Durban (South Africa), Sao Paolo (Brazil), Sakhalin (Russian Federation), County Mayo (Ireland), Pandacan (Philippines), Curacao (Netherlands Antilles), Port Arthur (Texas, USA), and Norco (Louisiana, USA).

Desmond D’Sa, Chairperson of SDCEA, together with Siziwe Khanyile, the groundWork Air Quality Campaign Coordinator, is in London, for the London leg of the AGM. Siziwe Khanyile raises the concern that the eThekwini Municipality has agreed to be used by Shell in their “greenwash” in their 2004 Annual report. Viewing this, Mr D’Sa indicates, “that is clear that the eThekwini Municipality is in bed with Shell, conspiring against the community efforts to get pollution reduced in the south Durban neighbourhood by 'greenwashing' the issues in south Durban.”

Bobby Peek, Director of groundWork, is in The Hague for the Dutch leg of the AGM. “It is important that Shell starts recognising that this is a global community movement against Shell’s destructive practices. It is now not only about big NGO’s challenging Shell. These are people at the fenceline and more powerful for they are not going to go away”.
Zaks Kikia-Khan, SDCEA Steering Committee member and resident of Isipingo Hills in south Durban, has Shell as a neighbour to her community. “Shell is purposely divisive in my community by setting up their own community liaison forum to undermine SDCEA’s mandate and challenge to Shell. We do not need a neighbour such as this!”

At a meeting on Friday, with Dutch NGO’s working on corporate issues, Cesar Augusto Periera, a community activist of Coletivo Alternative Verde (DAVE) in Sao Paula, Brazil, gave the reasoning for the global community gathering in The Hague and London: “Every solution to the problem at a local level is trans-national in nature and this is why we are here working with NGO’s in The Netherlands and attending the Shell Board meeting.”

End:

Bobby Peek, groundWork & Zaks Kikia-Khan, SDCEA: 0931 6 2745 4457
Siziwe Khanyile, groundWork & Desmond D’Sa, SDCEA: 0944 78 7602 2647


[1] SDCEA is a local environmental justice organisation based in south Durban that provides a collective voice for the various community organisations and residents in south Durban, who live adjacent to the petro-chemical industrial developments in the south Durban area.
[2] groundWork is an environmental justice organisation working focusing on air pollution, waste and corporate abuse and works with community organisations living adjacent to petro-chemical facilities in south Durban, Sasolburg, Secunda and Cape Town. (www.groundwork.org.za)
[3] Friends of the Earth chapters from The Netherlands (www.milieudefensie.nl) & England, Wales and Northern Ireland (www.foe.co.uk) have together with the various community organisations and NGO’s produced this report and will be hosting this global network in The Hague and London.

[4] South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and groundWork - Demands of Shell, south Durban
Monday, 27 June 2005:

  1. To produce a five-year pollution reduction and operational plan that goes beyond the present legislative requirements and moves Shell to meet the pollution and operational standards of the top refineries globally. This plan must be finalized in consultation with the local community and be completed and expenditure approved by the Shell Board by February 2006.
  2. A maintenance programme to replace the aging infrastructure must be produced in conjunction with the five-year pollution reduction and operational plan.
  3. Independent experts chosen jointly by community and the company must verify compliance to the plans.
  4. All Shell fuel pipelines running through the community must be replaced based upon the precautionary principle and managed in accordance with best global practice, which should inter alia have public makings, product flow monitoring that can pick up any discrepancies in product entered and delivered.
  5. The number of incidents impacting upon the environment, community health and worker safety must be reduced immediately.
  6. Shell will use gas permanently instead of other fuel sources for its processing units.
  7. Shell will not obstruct SDCEA, groundWork and local community participation in government operational legislative reviews on permits or other such legal processes.
  8. Shell will make all information that is not commercially confidential available to the community. If information is considered confidential, Shell needs to give details as to why.
  9. Shell will negotiate a pollution monitoring protocol, i.e. in-stack and fenceline monitoring with SDCEA, groundWork and local community.
  10. Maintenance staff will be employed by Shell and not through contractors and labour brokers which result in workers loosing all benefits and rights.
  11. Shell senior management to commit to honest and transparent process to find solutions to problems and halt the use of “spin doctors”.
  12. All data presented by Shell to be verified by an independent expert of the community’s choice.
  13. Reporting protocols must be developed jointly between government, industry and the community.
  14. Shell must install a backup electric transformer in case of power dips and outages.