South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA)

SHELL OIL VICTIMS TO SEEK TALKS WITH TOP COMPANY OFFICIALS, RELEASE NEW BOOK EXPOSING ABUSES AROUND THE GLOBE - Far From Being Reborn As Environmentally Conscious Oil Company, Shell Continues Pattern of Serious Environmental Problems

SOUTH DURBAN, 12 November 2002 - Two South Durban victims of Shell Oil environmental abuses in the South Africa, Bobby Peek and Desmond D’Sa, are today joining activists from the United States to hand over the new book, "Riding the Dragon: Royal Dutch Shell & The Fossil Fire," to the Royal Dutch Shell International MD.

groundWork Director, Bobby Peek, is a Goldman Environmental Prize winner and a Shell neighbour in Durban, South Africa. Desmond D’Sa is the Chairperson of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, campaigning for pollution reduction and clean up from Shell in Durban, South Africa.

At the same time, protests will take place in Nigeria, Manila and South Durban. The South Durban protest will take place at 11am outside SAPREF, South Durban.

"Shell's oil refinery in South Africa is an apartheid relic, that is presently crumbling. The plant has more than 17 major incidents since January 2001, impacting directly on the people in South Durban, and they have a right to call for government to shut it down'” said Peek.

Desmond D'Sa, is extremely concerned about the safety of the people in his neighbourhoods in South Durban. "Must we first die as a result of an Industrial incident, before government will listen to us" pleaded Desmond D'Sa.

The media is invited to attend. Community members will read out excerpts from the first chapter of the book, which focuses on South Durban. The results of an air quality sample taken two weeks ago outside SAPREF on the day where the company burned gases for four hours, will be announced.

There have been 23 major incidents at the South Durban SAPREF plant in less than four years, including the world’s largest underground oil spill. There have also been incidents where 25 tons of toxic tetraethyl lead, a neurotoxin, have leaked, and where 15 000 litres of marine fuel oil have spilled into Durban harbour. In February 2000, Sapref admitted that it had been under-reporting sulphur dioxide emissions by as much as 12 tonnes per day. In 1998, SAPREF lost more than 5 tons of hydrofluoric aced in a fire. HF is extremely lethal and can kill on contact, as was a case in 2001, when a workers died at the Engen refinery after being exposed to it.

Nigerian oil activist and author Nnimmo Bassey who is campaigning against environmental degradation by oil companies in the USA will join Peek and D'Sa. They have combined their campaigning since they met each other in South Durban in 2000 at the International Oil Watch Conference.

The American activists who will join Peek and D’Sa in confronting Shell, are Iris Carter, a Shell neighbour in Louisiana that helped her community win relocation from their troubled facility, Hilton Kelley, a Shell neighbour in Texas campaigning for lower toxic pollution and reducing frequent chemical spills from their plant, and Denny Larson, Coordinator, Refinery Reform Campaign, US-based campaign to clean up oil refinery pollution impacts on fence line neighbours.

An advance copy of the first chapter of “Riding the Dragon" can also be emailed to you.

The more than 300 page book focusing on the world's second largest oil company was written by noted researcher Jack Doyle, who earlier authored "Taken For a Ride," a highly regarded expose of the U.S. auto industry. The book will be available on the Web as of November 14th at

For details about the protest in Durban please call Anna or Steven on 083 7141899 or 031 4611991. For interviews about the book please call Bobby Peek on 082 464 1383.