Shell faces community rebellion at its annual meeting – oil giant’s neighbours demand justice
LONDON (UK) / THE HAGUE (NETHERLANDS) June 27, 2005 – Communities living next door to the oil giant Shell will be at the company’s annual general meetings (AGM) in London and the Hague on Tuesday June 28 to protest at Shell’s record of human rights abuses and environmental damage around the world .
Friends of the Earth International
Their cases are illustrated in a new report launched today June 27 with Friends of the Earth in the Netherlands and the UK.
Their protest comes ten years after the execution of Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others who had all campaigned against Shell’s polluting operations in the Niger Delta.
Ten years on, communities say that despite many promises, Shell has done little to improve the situation for people locally. Many live with the daily impact of pollution from refineries, leaking pipelines and oil spills, which damage their health and the environment.
“Lessons Not Learned”, the third alternative Shell report, catalogues how despite commitments made in previous years, Shell still shows a total disregard for the environment and the rights of the people living near its operations in many parts of the world.
Representatives from the Philippines, Sakhalin Island, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, Curacao, Ireland and the United States are travelling to London and the Hague to raise their concerns in front of shareholders and directors.
Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth International’s corporate campaign coordinator said: “Shell’s environmental legacy in these communities exposes the reality behind the company’s greenwash. The Dutch and UK governments should face up to their responsibilities and make companies accountable for the damage they do overseas. If Shell worked in the West with the same standards it uses in Africa, there would be an outcry. Companies should stop operating with double-standards.”
Felix Majabague is in London from Manila in the Philippines where Shell runs an oil depot in the densely-populated area of Pandacan. Monitoring by the community has revealed high levels of toxic gases in the atmosphere when trucks are being loaded at the depot. A medical study by the local university suggested residents were exposed to toxins which could cause damage to the nervous system.
Isaak (Asume) Osuoka from Nigeria is in the Hague. He is working with local communities in the Niger Delta who, with the support of Friends of the Earth, are currently taking legal action against Shell over gas flaring. General flaring has been prohibited under Nigerian environmental regulations since 1984 but Shell continues to burn gas in the Delta and last month even announced that it will continue flaring after the proposed phase out date in 2008. Flaring releases a cocktail of toxic substances, including benzene and particulates, exposing Niger Delta communities to severe health risks and property damage, as well as violating their human rights. Eight communities in the Niger Delta took legal action last week against Shell to stop gas flaring.
Monique Harden speaking in the Hague for the US group Advocates for Environmental Human Rights said: “These communities have travelled a long way to seek justice from Shell. At past meetings, Shell has listened to their concerns, but has then failed to act on its promises. Communities deserve to have their voices heard and their concerns addressed – Shell hasn’t done this. It is time to hold Shell accountable and force the company to take action.”
Elena Lopukhina is coming to the AGM in London from Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East, where Shell is expanding its operations with a new offshore gas platform and pipeline running across the island. Shell has already been forced to re-route the pipeline following conservation concerns about its proximity to the breeding grounds of the Western Pacific Grey Whale. But residents on the island are also concerned about the impact of the pipeline on their livelihoods. Many depend on fishing, but pollution from pipeline construction is contaminating salmon spawning grounds and damaging the unique habitat of their island. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is refusing to fund the project until problems with the environmental impact of the pipeline’s construction are resolved.
Shell’s neighbours will be available for interviews (full list below).
For more information contact:
in the Netherlands
Friends of the Earth Netherlands press office +31-20-5507333 or
Friends of the Earth International, Paul de Clerck +32-473-510147 (Belgian mobile number)
in the UK
Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland press office +44-207-5661649 or
Hannah Griffiths +44-20 7566 1666 (m) +44-7855 841994
NOTES TO EDITORS
 IN LONDON the Shell AGM takes place at ExCeL, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, London, E16 1XL, on Tuesday June 28, 2005 commencing at 11:00
IN THE HAGUE The Shell AGM takes place at the Circustheater, Circusstraat 4 in the Hague, on Tuesday June 28, 2005 commencing at 10:30 am
 The report is online here: www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/lessons_not_learned.pdf
Friends of the Earth in the UK and the Netherlands will be hosting the following visitors:
Bobby Peek and Siziwe Kanali, groundwork (Friends of the Earth), South Africa
Desmond D’Sa and Zakiya Kikia Khan, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, South Africa
Isaak (Asume) Osuoka, Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth), Nigeria
Patrick Naagbanton, Niger-delta Project for the Environment, Human Rights and Development, Nigeria
Felix Majabague and Chito Adofina, United Front to Oust Oil Depots, the Philippines
Elena Lopukhina, Sakhalin Environment Watch, Sakhalin Island, Russia
Cesar Augusto Pereira and Valdenir da Cruz Santos, Coletivo Alternative Verde, Brazil
Norbert George, Human Care Foundation, Curacao
Margie Richard and Iris Carter, Concerned Citizens of Norco, USA
Denny Larson, Global Community Monitor, USA
Hilton Kelley and Tashica Miles, Community In-power Development Association, USA
Monique Harden and Nathalie Walker, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, USA
Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, USA
Maura Harrington, Shell to Sea, Ireland