The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that, “Dutch oil company Shell has been grilled over its operations in Africa’s Niger Delta amid claims of pollution and abuses. Shell’s executives have been called before a parliamentary inquiry (into Shell) in the Hague (where the company’s headquarters are based and) asked about oil spills and gas flaring causing atmospheric pollution.”
In the report, Audrey Gaughran of Amnesty International says, “While we think the hearing itself and the initiative to hold the hearing was an excellent initiative of the Dutch parliament, that it was disappointing in terms of Shell’s participation. They spoke in very general terms. They didn’t say very much. And they didn’t answer the specifics of the allegations that have been brought against them in terms of the operations in the Niger Delta. …Amnesty International and various other groups have documented oil related pollution that are due to Shell’s operations in the Niger Delta. And the pollution has a really serious impact on the right to food, the right to water and the right to livelihood.”
Reuters adds that, “Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth International said on Tuesday they filed an official complaint against Shell for breaches of basic standards for responsible business set out by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Remote, poor communities in the Niger Delta have suffered decades of pollution from spills that have been left to fester, damaging the air, soil and water.”
In Canada, Shell undermines the right to water through its investments in the heavily-polluting northern Alberta tar sands. We have raised concerns about this at various times including here, http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=475. The Dene Nation and the Assembly of First Nations have also raised concerns about the impact of the tar sands on drinking water in the Northwest Territories, http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=116. Additionally, Shell is investing billions in shale gas exploration and fracking (which has serious consequences on water) in the north-eastern United States and we may see them move into Canada on this front. And it has been reported that Shell will pursue some of the 90 billion barrels of oil believed to be under the waters in the Arctic, with of course the dangers that come with a catastrophic oil spill in the North. Shell Canada’s corporate head office is in Calgary.
The ABC report is at http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2011/s3123963.htm. The Reuters article is at http://af.reuters.com/article/investingNews/idAFJOE70P0J620110126. There is also a fuller article in the Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059931271425282.html.