Center for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA): Shell Denounced Internationally for Human Rights and Environmental Violations in Argentina

May 29, 2008
11:46 AM

CONTACT: Center for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA)
Jorge Carpio INPADE FOCO
+ 54 (011) 4772-8922
Natalia Salvatico Amigos de la Tierra + 54
(011) 4773-5947 / + 54 9 11 5 7277728

Shell Denounced Internationally for Human Rights and Environmental Violations in Argentina
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - May 29 - On the heels of a scathing government audit, and a globally unprecedented preventive closure of its refinery facilities in Buenos Aires Argentina, local groups have filed an international complaint against Shell calling for immediate action by the company to redress the social and environmental harms caused by the refinery to the community and to the local environment during decades of abuse and irresponsible corporate behavior.

INPADE (a local NGO) and Friend of the Earth Argentina, representing the residents of Villa Inflamable, presented parallel complaints (called Specific Instances) to the Governments of Argentina and the Netherlands, today, against SHELL CAPSA (the Argentine affiliate of ROYAL DUTCH SHELL). The complaint denounces Shell for a long list of national, provincial, municipal and international law violations that are not only claimed by the community against the company, but that have been confirmed in a recent audit and preventive closure ordered by the National Environmental Authority of Argentina (the SAyDS).

The infraganti environmental and social violations found at Shell's facilities in Argentina include fore example, failing to provide Environmental Impact Assessments, withholding information about impacts and accidents to the local community and to public authorities, extracting 18 million liters of water per hour from the local Riachuelo River with no permit to do so, maintaining undeclared (phantom) and dangerous high pressure petroleum containers, visible petrol leaks on the premises, illegal dangerous manipulation and storage of toxic waste, and many other violations cited in the audit. Residents say these are the sorts of irresponsible activity typical of SHELL Argentina since its founding in 1931. But no one, until now, has ever done anything about it.

SHELL initially denied the findings by the National Environmental Authority, but later, following the preventive closure, and the multimillion dollar losses accrued each day from their inability to maintain the production line, capitulated, and signed an agreement to correct its violations and invest some US$80million to improve its sub-standard environmental management.

Local residents latched on to the government audit and Preventive Closure, and are now claiming that the violations cited are precisely what they have been claiming all along, except that this time, the legal authority has taken action against Shell, and now the community wants immediate results to repair damage, including a relocation to an environmentally safe location.

The OECD Complaint also highlights the fact that SHELL is under scrutiny all over the world, including in places like the Philippines, Ireland, Russia, the UK, the Netherlands and the United States and calls on both governments, Argentina and the Netherlands to engage Shell to work out a solution to the systemic and historic violations faced by Shell's neighbors.

Created in 1999, the Center for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA) is a non-profit organization which aims to build a more harmonious relationship between the environment and people. Our work centers on promoting greater access to justice and guarantee human rights for victims of environmental degradation, or due to non-sustainable management of natural resources, and to prevent future violations. To this end, CEDHA fosters the creation of inclusive public policy that promotes inclusive socially and environmentally sustainable development, through community participation, public interest litigation, strengthening democratic institutions, and the capacity building of key actors.