AMSTERDAM (NETHERLANDS) / DURBAN (SOUTH AFRICA) – Dutch oil giant Shell was summoned today by two Friends of the Earth groups to immediately start replacing old pipelines around its refinery in Durban, where major new spills occurred in the past days.

Last Thursday (Oct 2th) 75,000 liters of diesel leaked into the Island View canal near Durban harbour. The diesel probably came from a storage tank. A week earlier, another diesel spill took place and it is unknown how much diesel was spilled in the latter event.

In April this year, Jeroen van der Veer, president of Royal Dutch Shell, admitted that the refinery had experienced many problems in the past. This admission came after questions asked by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) and Friends of the Earth South Africa (groundWork).

The Shell Group promised improvements but left the solving of problems to local management. Milieudefensie and groundWork want Shell to replace its old pipelines in order to avoid future spills. Kilometres of underground pipelines run through residential areas. Milieudefensie and the local community, under the umbrella of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDECA) demand that the Shell Group ensure no more leakages take place.

Since 2001, the Durban community has seen fifteen spills from Shell pipelines, hoses and storage tanks, often in or nearby residential areas. Amongst those was the biggest petrol spill in the history of South Africa: more than 1 million litres of petrol spilled into the environment.

In April, Friends of the Earth published the report “Leaking pipelines – Shell in South Africa.” The report pointed to the responsibility carried by the Shell Group to stop the pollution in South Africa. Friends of the Earth Netherlands believes that Dutch multinationals should assume responsibility not only for the impact of their own activities on the environment, but also for activities by their subsidiaries.


FoE Netherlands (Milieudefensie) Press Office, phone:+31 20 5507 333