South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
24 June, 2004
Launch of “Behind The Shine” - The Real Impacts Of Shell’s Work Around The World

groundWork (Friends of the Earth South Africa) and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) formed part of a network of organizations, headed by Friends of the Earth that launched a new report titled “ Behind the Shine - The other Shell Report 2003” today (Wednesday 23 June), ahead of the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) in London.

The report unveils a catalogue of misery from communities living next door to Shell’s operations around the world [1]. These people have known for many years what shareholders were shocked to discover this year - Shell‘s promises and commitments are not all that they seem. The oil giant Shell, already under scrutiny for overstating its oil reserves, stands accused of polluting communities, damaging wildlife habitats and failing to live up to its promise of environmental and social responsibility.

In 2003 representatives from the communities living on the fence lines to Shell’s operations secured single shares each that allow them access to Shell’s AGM.

These representatives are presently in London to raise their concerns at the company’s AGM. Desmond D’sa (SDCEA) and Ardiel Soeker (groundWork) are amongst the representatives that will be attending the Shell annual general meeting on Monday 28 June 2004 in the United Kingdom.

The concerns that SDCEA and groundWork hope to raise at the AGM include:

§ Shell’s commitments to Durban at the 2003 AGM to clean up the SAPREF facility, which has not been done

§ Antiquated and leaking pipelines

§ Shell’s double standards of providing cleaner facilities in countries of the ‘North’, like Denmark while providing dirtier more hazardous facilities in countries of the ‘South’, like South Africa

§ Dealing with the environmental issues of its refinery and not try to greenwash with “feel good” projects such as new playgrounds and scholarships

Shell needs to stop the endless “talkshops” with communities and to start taking action to clean up its operation in Durban. The coordinated action against Shell is once again evidence that multinational companies can no longer operate as they wish. They will be held accountable for their actions no matter where they operate. Governments must also develop legislation that will hold corporations accountable for their social and environmental injustices.

Friends of the Earth Executive Director Tony Juniper said:

“Shell is currently under investigation for overstating its oil reserves, but this report shows the company has for many years also been overstating its social and environmental performance. Unlike shareholders, the communities living next door to Shell have little or no rights of redress. Many suffer ill health, pollution and environmental damage as a result of Shell’s pursuit of profits. It is time the British Government legislated and gave communities the right to protection from such corporate abuse. And they must be compensated when abuse occurs.”

The Book “Behind the Shine” is available on PDF Format (size – 1MB) from either the groundwork office or the SDCEA office and could be sent to you on request.

For further information please contact:

groundWork at (033) 342-5662 or SDCEA at (031) 461-1991


[1] Cases highlighted in Behind the Shine include: Durban, South Africa; Port Arthur Texas; Manila, the Philippines; Norco, Louisiana, US; Niger Delta, Nigeria; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Curaçao, Caribbean; Sakhalin Island, Russia.


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