Injustices by Shell Oil are the Focus of 'Nobel Prize' for the Environmental Movement

23 April 2007 - Today, William Corduff, a lifetime resident of Rossport, a sparsely populated farming community in North Mayo County, Ireland will be awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize [1] in recognition of his resistance, along with his local community, against Shell Oil’s illegally-approved pipeline through their land. [2]

What is significant about this year’s award is that it once again awards community resistance against Shell Oil. On two previous occasions Shell Oil was the focus, first in Nigeria, when Ken Saro Wiwa [3] received the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1995 and then in 1998 when Margie Richards [4] was awarded the prize for her work in Louisiana, in the United States. In 1998 Bobby Peek, a resident of Durban, received the award for his work with the south Durban community, resisting multinational corporations in south Durban, where Shell Oil operates the biggest South African oil refinery.

groundWork (Friends of the Earth, South Africa – www.gorundwork.org.za) and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA – www.sdcea.org.za) have been part of the global Shell Accountability Campaign because of Shell Oil’s activities in south Durban which have resulted in Shell Oil’s pipelines leaking more than one million litres of petrol under community homes.

The Shell Accountability Campaign was started in 2002 with the release of the book ‘Riding the Dragon’ [5] which documents Shell Oil’s impacts globally. Since 2002, the Campaign has grown to include community groups from four continents and non-governmental organisations such as Friends of the Earth International [6] and, in the US, Global Community Monitor [7] and Environmental Health Fund.

Shell Oil planned to start off shore gas production in 2003 near Rossport, bringing toxic, unrefined gas ashore at Rossport via a high pressure pipeline stretching six miles to a refinery which was to be constructed in neighbouring Bellanaboy. Despite objections by many Rossport citizens, Shell was granted permission by the Irish government to run the pipeline across the property of more than two dozen farmers and landowners.

In response, William Corduff and his neighbours began a grassroots campaign to rally the support of their fellow Rossport residents in challenging the pipeline. In June 2005, after refusing Shell access to their property, William Corduff and four other men were jailed. Known as the “Rossport Five,” they were released after spending 94 days in jail.

William Corduff [in print Willie Corduff]:

“The bottom line is we will not lie down. We can not. There is too much at stake. We’d have to leave our homes if we were to accept this. We have to protect ourselves, because no one else will.”

Desmond D’Sa:

“We applaud Willie and his community who have resisted the Shell Oil corporate juggernaut, even if it meant going to prison for their beliefs. As residents of south Durban we feel their pain and stand in solidarity with the community of Rossport”

For more information:

Footnotes:

[1] Information on the Goldman Environmental Prize can be found at http://www.goldmanprize.org/

[2] Information on the resistance by the Rossport Community against Shell Oil at http://www.corribsos.com/

[3] Information on Ken Sao Wiwa and the Ogoni Struggle can be found at http://www.goldmanprize.org/node/160 and http://www.remembersarowiwa.org/

[4] Information on Margie Richards and the Norco Shell struggle can be found at http://www.goldmanprize.org/node/100

[5] Excerpts from the book are online here: http://www.shellfacts.com/article.php?list=type&type=19

[6] For more information Global on Community Monitor see http://www.gcmonitor.org/