South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
 
PRESS STATEMENT
 
22 April 2003
 
SHELL CHALLENGED AT AGM BY COMMUNITY ACTIVIST SHAREHOLDERS

Embargoed: Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Tuesday, April 22, 2003, Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Amsterdam, London: Community and civil society activists representing groundWork and the SDCEA [1] will be participating as shareholders at the Royal Dutch Shell AGMs being held concurrently in London and The Hague tomorrow, April 23, 2003. They will join an international coalition [2] of civil society organisations calling on Shell to be held accountable for polluting fence-line communities across the world.

Tomorrow in London, Desmond D'Sa, who lives not far from the Shell oil refinery in south Durban, will take his place at the London Shell AGM as a holder of one share in Royal Dutch Shell. He will use his position as a shareholder in this powerful multi-national corporation to raise questions regarding the pollution Shell is causing in his community. He will be joined by representatives from communities in the USA, Nigeria and the Philippines who wish to draw the attention of international Shell shareholders and management to the environmental and human rights abuses being perpetrated by local Shell operations.

These community representatives will also present their cases at an international press conference at 09:30 hrs London time in the Weatherhead Room, Central Hall, Westminster, London, to expose Shell's disastrous environmental record and to launch a new publication entitled - "Failing the challenge: The Other Shell Report 2002". Representatives from the oil giant Shell is still putting short-term profit before people and the environment, despite its public commitment to a "green" future [3], according to "The Other Shell Report". This is a counter report to the AGM Chairperson's report.

Parallel to this, in The Hague, tomorrow, groundWork's Ardiel Soeker, will attend Shell's Dutch AGM representing groundWork, also a new shareholder in Royal Dutch Shell. He will be joined by representatives of Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth, The Netherlands) who are this week releasing a new report entitled "Leaking Pipelines - Shell in South Africa". This report investigates Shell's activities in south Durban, South Africa, where Shell operates the biggest oil refinery in Southern Africa, adjacent to local black communities. This report is the third in a series of five reports being produced by Milieudefensie to monitor Dutch multinationals' activities abroad. The series features Dutch companies that do not take their corporate responsibilities seriously in foreign countries, thereby demonstrating the need for binding international rules for multi-nationals.

Says Durban's Desmond D'SA: "In South Durban multinationals like Shell seem to be above the law. Multinationals like Shell who pollute with impunity have never been prosecuted or penalised in South Africa. We in south Durban call on Shell management to respect the South African constitution" .

"Shell will not be allowed to operate in the UK and The Netherlands as they do in South Africa, polluting local community's environments and health. Shell must be held accountable. If we cannot get the South African government to act, we will ensure that we get the international community to act against Shell to hold them accountable and to ensure that the South African government develops laws to protect its people from such polluters," states Ardiel Soeker, Air Quality Project Coordinator for groundWork.

For more information contact:
Bobby Peek (groundWork, SA): 033 3425662 or 082 4641383
Heeten Kalan (SAEPEJ) and Desmond D'Sa: 0944 77 3697 9647
Ardiel Soeker (groundWork): 0931 62 959 3876
Tony Juniper (Friends of the Earth, EWNI): 0944 20 7490 0336 and 0944 77 1284 3207
Myrthe Verweij (Milieudefensie, Amsterdam): 0931 62 959 3876

"Failing the Challenge - The Other Shell Report 2002" can be downloaded from: www.groundwork.org.za
This report will be available at 10:30 hrs on Wednesday on the website.
"Leaking Pipelines - Shell in South Africa" can be downloaded from: www.foenl.org

NOTES:

[1] The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) is an alliance of 10 civil society groupings in south Durban challenging polluting industry in residential neighbourhoods

[2] Civil society organisations and their representatives: Desmond D'Sa, Chairperson of the SDCEA, Durban, South Africa; Hope Esquillo-Tura, United Front to Oust Oil Depots, from the Philippines; Oronto Douglas, Friends of the Earth Nigeria; Hilton Kelley, Director of the Community In-power and Development Association, Port Arthur, Texas; Margie Richard, Concerned Citizens of Norco, Louisiana, USA; Judith Robinson, Environmental Health Fund, USA; Denny Larson, Refinery Reform Campaign Global Community Monitor, USA; Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth (EWNI); Myrthe Verweij, Milieudefensie; Heeten Kalan, the South African Exchange Programme on Environmental Justice.

[3] The company committed itself to "sustainable development" in 1995.


Linda Ambler
Media and Publications Officer
groundWork
PO Box 2375, Pietermaritzburg, 3200, South Africa
Tel: (27) 33-3425662
Fax: (27) 33-3425665
linda@groundwork.org.za or team@groundwork.org.za
www.groundwork.org.za
Friends of the Earth member for South Africa