RELEASE -24th April 2003
For immediate release
Communities attend Royal
Dutch Shell’s AGMs in London/The Hague and raise their
Dutch Shell’s concurrent annual general meetings in The Hague and London
yesterday were attended by surprise new shareholders in the form of activists
from communities neighbouring Shell facilities around the world. Local community
based organisations from around the world recently decided to buy single
shares in this multi-national corporation in order to gain direct access
to Shell shareholders with the hope of raising awareness of the environmental
destruction and human suffering Shell is causing worldwide.
In The Hague, Netherlands, environmental activists constructed a
giant “leaking fuel pipeline” in front of the entrance to the Shell AGM.
This mock leaking pipeline represented the leaking pipelines at the Shell/BP
oil refinery in south Durban. Shareholders attending the AGM had to walk
under the “leaking pipeline” in order to gain access to the AGM. A giant
banner was also erected declaring “Shell stop polluting South Africa” (see
Ardiel Soeker of groundWork, a new Shell shareholder, asked
questions about the leaking fuel pipelines from the Shell/BP refinery in
south Durban. He also raised concerns around communities’ lack of access
to information and the frustration of dead-end dialogue taking place with
Shell at the local level.
Friends of the Earth (Netherlands, EWNI and SA) used the opportunity of
this AGM to launch a new report entitled “Leaking pipelines – Shell in
South Africa” (see www.foenl.org).
In London, Heeten Kalan (representing groundWork)
and Desmond D’Sa (representing the South Durban Community Environmental
Alliance) joined other community representatives from the USA, Philippines,
and Niger Delta  at the London Shell AGM.
the AGM, Chair of Shell's Board, Sir Phillip Watts opened the meeting
saying that Shell wants to earn people's trust; wants to be transparent;
and wants to respect people. Responding to his remarks, Tony Juniper, Executive
Director of Friends of the Earth UK, asked Watts if he would give time to
the community representatives to voice their concerns to the AGM. Watts
agreed to hear these concerns and the community representatives challenged
the Shell Board and Watts to pay close attention to the problems on the
ground at these Shell facilities.
to Watt's claims that dialogue on a local level will solve these issues,
Hope Esquillo-Tura from Philippines said, "After numerous failed attempts
to dialogue with local plant managers, we are flying across oceans and continents
to let you know that local dialogue is not working." The group sent
a strong message to Shell saying that the international office has to get
involved, as it did in the successful relocation of members of the Diamond
Community in Norco, Louisiana, if trust needs to be built to remedy local
Kalan, representing groundWork, reminded Watts that dialogue
was not enough and that eventually, Shell will be judged by its actions
and not only their words.
with Friends of Earth, UK, the representatives held a press briefing prior
to the AGM to tell their stories to the media and to release "Facing
the Challenge: The Other Shell Report 2002". This report documents
the stories of fenceline communities in six countries and tells the stories
not told in Shell's glossy reports and brochures.
D'Sa, Chair of SDCEA, pointed to the striking comparisons between the
Shell refinery in South Durban and the one in Denmark which are highlighted
in a recently published report “A 2002 snapshot – Comparison of refineries
in Dennmark and South Durban” .
"Why does Shell operate with better and cleaner
technologies in Denmark than in South Africa? Are our lives worth less?
We are asking Shell to clean up so we in South Durban do not have to continue
suffering," D’Sa asked.
Hilton Kelley, representative from Port Arthur, shared that after
a major recent chemical release from Shell in his community, Shell sent
a letter offering people a free carwash. "They are willing to clean
my car -- but what about my lungs, my liver, my heart? Shell cannot disrespect
and disregard us this way," he exclaimed.
private meetings and discussions with Shell in London on Monday, the community
coalition expressed the strong need for the international office to become
involved in these local issues. The coalition now has an independent and
direct communication link to the London office which they will use to highlight
the failures of local processes.
delegation also met with major institutional shareholders to express their
concerns and highlight the discrepancies between the Shell reports and brochures
and the reality on the ground.
more photographs of the UK or Dutch Shell AGM please contact Linda Ambler
or Bobby Peek on 033-3425662 or Eugene from Milieudefensie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information contact:
Bobby Peek (groundWork, SA): 033 3425662 or 082 4641383
Kalan (SAEPEJ): 0944 77 3697 9647
Juniper (Friends of the Earth, EWNI): 0944 20 7490 0336 and 0944 77 1284
Myrthe Verweij (Milieudefensie, Amsterdam): 0931 62 959 3876
“Failing the Challenge - The Other Shell Report 2002” can be downloaded
“Leaking Pipelines – Shell in South Africa” can be downloaded from: www.foenl.org
 Civil society organisations and their representatives: Desmond D’Sa,
Chair of SDCEA, Durban, South Africa; Hope Esquillo-Tura, United Front
to Oust Oil Depots, 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 and Global Community Monitor, USA;
Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth (EWNI); Myrthe Verweij, Milieudefensie;
Heeten Kalan, the South African Exchange Programme on Environmental Justice.
 This report was published by SDCEA and the Danmarks Naturfreningsforening
(DN). It can be downloaded from: http://scnc.udw.ac.za/~ub/cbos/sdcea/dnmain.htm