Tuesday, October 24, 2006


As my boycott of all things Shell enters it’s 14th year, I feel I should explain some of the reasons why, at an early age, I bullied my parents into driving past Shell stations to the next petrol stop, and why I refused to buy any products from Shell stations throughout my teen years, and why, since buying my car, I have driven on empty rather than pull in under their pathetically ‘clean-air’ evoking seashell sign.

It all began, as the Chemical Brothers put it, in Africa. A story I read in the Irish Times of protests in Nigeria led to my campaign, and I have extracted a paragraph from ‘The Other Shell Report 2003’ (http://gcmonitor.org//downloads/shellreport_behindtheshine.pdf), which explains it best:

Ken Saro-Wiwa
“Ken Saro-Wiwa was president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), an organization fighting to defend the environmental and human rights of the Ogoni people.

Since the late 1950’s, Shell has been operating in Nigeria, extracting more than US$30 billion of oil and contaminating the farmland and fisheries of the Ogoni. Many of the fish and wildlife in the area have vanished. Ken Saro-Wiwa mobilized his people to demand compensation from Shell for oil spills on Ogoni farmland and in the wetlands, rivers, and streams of the Niger Delta. In January 1993, Ken brought together 300,000 Ogoni who took to the streets in the largest demonstration against an oil company in history.

In May 1994, Ken was abducted from his home and arrested with other MOSOP leaders for the alleged murder of four Ogoni leaders. In October 1995, despite the protests of people around the world, including government officials from other countries and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Ken and eight co-defendants were convicted by a military tribunal and hanged. Many Ogoni believe that the only crime committed by Ken Saro-Wiwa was his daring to stand up to Shell.”

“Ken Saro-Wiwa, a well-known Nigerian award-winning author and activist, was executed by the Nigerian government in 1995.”

At the moment, Shell is continuing it’s aggressively awful environmental policy around the world – extending their black fingers to Ireland. From www.shellfacts.com, here are some of the worst offences highlighted to the Shell AGM recently:

“In the Niger Delta, where Shell sources 10 per cent of its oil, the company's failure to invest in technology results in 700 millionscf/d of gas being burnt off into the environment, an increase on last year, despite a commitment to end flaring by 2008. Gas flaring wastes energy, contributes to global warming and pollutes the environment. But gas flaring has become an every-day feature for the communities in the Delta. Oil spills are also common - with 9,900 barrels of oil spilt in 2003. Oil spills are frequently left rather than cleaned up, contaminating farmland, water courses and fish supplies.

In Texas, Shell is facing legal action from the community living next door to its operations in Port Arthur who are literally sick of the pollution in their backyard. Some 1,200 residents are alleging air, soil and other contamination due to the release of "noxious fumes, vapours, odours and hazardous substances" from the Motiva refinery, which processes 235,000 barrels of oil a day.

Legal wrangles also face Shell in the Philippino capital Manila where the company's oil depot is sited in the centre of a residential community; and in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the company stands accused of contaminating drinking water and causing serious health problems including cancers, infertility and respiratory diseases.

On the Caribbean island of Curaçao, Shell walked away from these problems, selling its refinery to the Government in 1985 after operating for more than 70 years. Pollution from the refinery has contaminated the small island which is surrounded by 20 km of coral reef, and severely damaged the health of the community with complaints of premature deaths, cancers, birth defects, bronchitis, skin diseases and asthma. Local residents are now campaigning to hold Shell liable.

In Louisiana, where community campaigner Margie Richard was this year awarded the Goldman Prize for her campaign for environmental justice from Shell, the community is still fighting for the right to health care after years of exposure to pollution from Shell's refinery in Norco. Shell responded by commissioning a study of community perceptions and not health.”
Sourced from http://www.shellfacts.com

So, it began with the deaths of innocents in Africa, and has continued through their abuses and waiving of international laws, and total disregard for human life. They trod on those who cannot fight back, and as usual the cry of those without a voice barely dints this First World. Therefore, I'll boycott Shell for as long as I can, and have recently added Statoil to my list of stations I will not support with my hard-earned money…since their jumping into bed with Shell on the Corrib gas line in Ireland.


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