The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice: Brazil Issues Criminal Charges Against Chevron & Nigerians sue Shell in London over Delta pollution

Brazil Issues Criminal Charges Against Chevron, says Rainforest Action Network

RAN: Chevron CEO John Watson is the real culprit

SAN RAMON, Calif., March 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today Rainforest Action Network activists traveled to Chevron’sheadquarters in San Ramon to issue a symbolic arrest warrant for Chevron CEO JohnWatson for international environmental and human rights crimes. The action came the day that Brazilian prosecutors filed criminal charges against Chevron executives after the company’s drilling operations caused an offshore oil spillthat dumped thousands of gallons of oil into a fragile marine ecosystem. Brazilian officials have levied fines of $11 billion and barred 17 Chevronand Transocean executives from leaving the country earlier this week.

(Photo:http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120321/DC74508)

Chevron is known as a corporate criminal around the world and today they are being charged byBrazil,” said Ginger Cassady, campaign director for Rainforest Action Network. “While Brazilissued criminal charges against executives for Chevron, we know the real culprit is John Watson,the company’s Chairman and CEO. Watson is responsible for Chevron’s human rights and environmental policies, which have led to multiple environmental and human rights abuses around the world.”

The giant arrest warrant, posted at the gate to Chevron Headquarters, charges Chairman Watsonwith the following crimes:

  • Gross negligence leading to the offshore oil spill in Brazil.
  • Deliberately contaminating the Ecuadorian Amazon with billions of gallons of toxic oil waste.
  • Death of workers in Nigeria due to disastrous natural gas explosion.

“The shocking arrogance and disregard for human rights and environmental protections represents a pattern in John Watson’s handling of issues where the company operates,” Cassady continued. “Chevron’s investors are aware of John Watson’s lack of disclosure on their current liabilities. A shareholder resolution has been filed this year proposing the removal of Watson as Chairman of the Board, for his irresponsible handling of the case in Ecuador.”

RAN works with Indigenous communities from the Ecuadorian Amazon to advocate for the remediation of rainforests polluted by Chevron oil extraction operations. Last year Ecuador issued an unprecedented ruling against Chevron for intentionally dumping billions of gallons of toxic oil waste and then covering up the mess. The company continues to deny responsibility and refuses to pay for clean up efforts.

“People everywhere should have the right to clean drinking water and healthy ecosystems,” concluded Cassady. “Chevron and John Watson take away basic human rights when they refuse to clean up the messes that they create to maximize their profits.”

SOURCE Rainforest Action Network

Nigerians sue Shell in London over Delta pollution

A Shell logo is seen on a pump at a petrol station in London April 28, 2010. REUTERS/Toby Melville

By Estelle Shirbon

(Reuters) – A group of 11,000 Nigerians launched a suit against Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) at the London High Court on Friday, seeking tens of millions of dollars in compensation for two oil spills in 2008 that they say destroyed their livelihoods.

The case will be closely watched by the industry for precedents that could have an impact on other big claims against Western oil companies accused of polluting poor countries, including Chevron’s (CVX.N) protracted dispute with Ecuador.

SPDC, a Shell-run joint venture between the Nigeria’s state oil firm, Shell, EPNL and Agip (ENI.MI), has admitted responsibility for two spills that devastated the Bodo fishing communities in the restive Niger Delta, where a maze of pipelines criss-cross mangrove swamps and creeks.

But Shell and the London lawyers representing the claimants disagree about how much oil was spilt and how much compensation they should get. Talks to resolve it broke down last week.

“They made an offer and the community quite rightly said this is ridiculously low,” said Martyn Day, of the London law firm Leigh Day & Co, who is leading legal proceedings. He said his hope was to resume negotiations with Shell at some point.

Day declined to say how much Shell had offered. He said his clients would be claiming “many millions of dollars” through the High Court, but there was no precise figure because there were 11,000 claimants so far but more might join the action later.

Shell says 4,000 barrels of oil in total were spilt in Bodo in 2008 as a result of operational failures and a clean-up was completed in 2009. It says that since then, more oil has been spilt due to sabotage and oil theft, known as “bunkering”.

SABOTAGE

“Our clean-up teams were able to deal with the initial operational spills, but subsequently they have been prevented by local communities from reaching sites that were reimpacted by this illegal activity,” said Mutiu Sunmonu, SPDC managing director, in a letter to the Financial Times on Wednesday.

“This could be because those communities hold a misguided belief that more spilt oil, irrespective of the cause, equals more compensation.”

Day disputed this. He said experts had put the amount spilt because of Shell’s two operational failures at 600,000 barrels, and that any bunkering that took place in the area would account for no more than 1 percent of that.

In a report in November 2011, human rights group Amnesty International blamed Shell for spilling 280,000 barrels in Bodo and called on it to pay $1 billion (630 million pounds) to clean up the Niger Delta.

If the figures given by Amnesty or by Day are close to the truth, that would make the Bodo spill one of the biggest in history. By comparison, the volume spilt in Alaska in the Exxon Valdez disaster was estimated at 257,000 barrels.

The discrepancies between the different estimates of the Bodo spills illustrate how hard it is to get an accurate picture of what goes on in the remote creeks of the Delta.

In a region where millions of people scrape a living from subsistence fishing or farming and live in mud-huts with no electricity, the presence for decades of a multi-billion-dollar oil industry with its high-tech equipment and luxurious compounds for expatriate workers has led to deep resentment.

Pipeline sabotage by militants campaigning for a greater share of oil revenues, or by local criminals looking to benefit from clean-up contracts, are common there.

Industry experts say bunkering may have siphoned off as much as 20 percent of Nigerian production. Kidnappings for ransom of foreign workers have also been a problem at certain periods, and governments have responded by paying off the gangs.

PUBLIC RELATIONS NIGHTMARE

Rivalries between neighbouring communities over their perceived rights to compensation or other revenues to be had from oil companies operating in their areas frequently boil over into violent conflict, adding to the Delta’s poisonous mix.

SPDC’s Sunmonu gave a flavour of this on Friday when he told BBC Radio 4 that the company wanted to help but there was “lots of intra-communal strife making it difficult for anyone to have meaningful negotiations”. He said lots of people who claimed to have been affected by the Bodo spills were lying.

The Bodo case is particularly troublesome for Shell because the area is in Ogoniland, a part of the Delta that was the scene of one of the company’s worst public relations disasters.

In 1995, nine Ogoni activists including the environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who had been campaigning against Shell’s activities in his homeland, were tried on trumped-up charges and hanged by the then military dictatorship of Sani Abacha.

Saro-Wiwa has become a martyr to many environmental activists around the world. Although Shell was not directly responsible for his death, it was widely blamed for cooperating with Abacha’s brutal and corrupt regime.

The company has worked hard since then to improve its image in Nigeria, but there is no clear solution to the delta’s problems, which have been festering for a decade.

The case has echoes of a legal saga involving Chevron’s (CVX.N) operations in Ecuador that has spanned nearly two decades. An Ecuadorean judge issued an $18 billion ruling against the U.S. company in February 2011 for polluting the Amazon, but multiple sub-plots have complicated the case which is now being fought in Ecuador’s Supreme Court, in a New York court and an international arbitration tribunal.

The Chevron case became a mantle for environmental activists who see the compensation order as a David vs Goliath victory. Shell will have to wait to see if it faces a similar loss.

Source: Reuters

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 

Editorial: Selvavidasinfronteras.org

Selvavidasinfronteras.worpress.com

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~ by FSVSF Admin on 27 March, 2012.

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