Tag Archives: Shell Oil Pollution

Will Barbados Environment Minister Denis Lowe attend World Environment Day Parish Walk – Saturday, June 5, 2010?

Why does our Environment Minister shun citizen-organised Environmental events?

Minister Denis Lowe

With his friendly demeanor and large frame Barbados Environment Minister Denis Lowe is easy to spot when he appears in public, but other than his press interviews and carefully-staged talks at schools, political functions and Ministry show-projects, Mr. Lowe remains The Invisible Man to ordinary citizens.

Saturday, June 5, 2010 is World Environment Day (UN WED website here).

Commemorated on 5 June since 1972, World Environment Day is one of the principal vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.

This year, the National Conservation Commission and the Future Centre Trust are jointly holding a World Environment Day Parish Walk from the Eric Holder Centre in St Joseph to Bathsheba.  This event also marks the 40th Anniversary of the NCC.

We wonder if Environment Minister Lowe will attend this citizen-organised walk or if he will limit his participation to taking out one of his famous full page adverts in The Barbados Advocate. In lieu of the full page advert, perhaps he might be planning to do one of his “I am concerned” media interviews while standing in front of government crews cleaning drains. (The Barbados Advocate covers Dr. Lowe’s stand up interviews faithfully but that has nothing to do with the regular full page government advertisements… honest!)

Pardon our cynicism folks, but Dr. Lowe and his Ministry have been no-shows at so many environmental events that we have to wonder. Most recently the Barbados Government, Environment Minister Denis Lowe and the Environment Ministry were invited to participate in the planning and execution of No Plastic Bag Day.

Denis Lowe canceled a scheduled meeting with the Future Centre Trust at the last moment saying he had more important commitments. Lowe sent no stand-in. No Ministry of the Environment personnel responded to invitations either – and no politicians from any party showed up during the planning or on the day of the event. The Barbados DLP Government of Prime Minister David Thompson did do one thing though: the DLP denied a duty waiver on the green shopping bags imported as part of No Plastic Bag Day.

The good Doctor Lowe hasn’t been seen at any beach or gully clean-ups either. He’s also been conspicuously absent from the site of the Shell Oil pipeline spill since he was elected.

“There is no question that Shell Oil bought and paid for two successive Barbados governments. How else can we explain the actions of both the BLP and DLP governments in allowing this negligent and abusive company to walk away free from a major pipeline leak that polluted the water table over hundreds of acres, ruined agricultural land and still threatens our beaches?”

from the BFP article How Much Did It Cost Shell Oil To Buy Two Barbados Governments? Without Election Financing Laws, We’ll Never Know

Prior to the DLP victory in January 2008, Denis Lowe was happy to work with environmentalists and concerned citizens to look for justice for the victims of the Shell Oil pipeline spill. Lowe attended with Adrian Loveridge and others to pull buckets of Shell jet fuel from household water wells and demand that Shell take responsibility and clean up their mess.

That was prior to the DLP forming the government, of course.

Now? We have Shell Oil’s “fixer company” saying they will “ensure government buy-in” to Shell’s position.

Hey… Dr. Lowe, please tell us how much in “campaign donations” that you and the Democratic Labour Party have received from Shell, SOL or associated companies since you lost interest in the Shell Oil pipeline spill?

Does it matter whether or not Environment Minister Lowe shows up for World Environment Day?

At this point? Nope. It doesn’t matter at all. Not a bit.

Barbados Free Press will be there though. See you on Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 5am for a 6am start at the Eric Holder Centre in St Joseph.

(5am? I know, I know! But Clive promises he’ll either get up early or stay up all night. Do we believe him? Sure! 🙂 )

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Shell Pays Up In Nigerian Human Rights & Ken Saro-Wiwa Execution Case

In the lawsuit, the families of the Ogoni nine alleged Shell conspired with the military government to capture and hang the men. Shell was also accused of a series of other alleged human rights violations, including working with the army to bring about killings and torture of Ogoni ­protesters.

The company was alleged to have provided the Nigerian army with vehicles, patrol boats and ammunition, and to have helped plan raids and terror campaigns against villages.

Supporters of the legal action said the fact that Shell had walked away from the trial suggested the company had been anxious about the evidence that would have been presented had it gone ahead. Stephen Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, said Shell “knew the case was overwhelming against them, so they bought their way out of a trial”…

… from the Guardian story Shell pays out $15.5m over Saro-Wiwa killing

Shell To Pay US$15.5 Million Over Nigerian Government Execution Of Nine Activists

Ken Saro-Wiwa - "Shell has blood on its hands"

Ken Saro-Wiwa - "Shell has blood on its hands"

Considering that Shell makes about US$3 million dollars profit per hour – every hour of every day – we’d say they got off pretty lightly for their environmental rape of Nigeria and (denied) complicity in the hangings of nine innocent Nigerians who wanted clean air, water and soil for their children.

Why did Shell settle at the last moment before the trial was due to begin in New York City?

Because going to trial would have exposed the truth about Shell in Nigeria to the whole world. US$15.5 million is pocket change to make risk go away.

What is the Lesson for Barbados Farmers Coping With Shell Oil’s Barbados Pipeline Spills?

Barbado Environment Denis Lowe (left) remains silent on the Shell Oil spill since his election.

Since his election, Barbados Environment Minister Denis Lowe (left) is suddenly silent on Shell Oil spill.

Perhaps the lesson in Barbados should be to sue the hell out of Shell. After 15 years of Shell ducking and dodging their responsibility, the Shell Barbados pipeline spill case needs to go to court.

We’d advise the Barbados Government to charge Shell with environmental offenses of failing to keep records, spilling petroleum and failing to clean up the spill – except that Barbados has no environmental legislation. That’s right folks – we don’t even have a law that requires Shell Oil to check their pipes and tanks every day for leaks.

Welcome to Barbados: where we have no hazardous materials standards and companies can pollute at will without worrying about the consequences.

How much did Shell Oil “donate” to the “political campaigns” of the DLP and BLP?

Oh, sorry… no legal requirement for anyone to reveal that, either!

Further Reading

Wall Street Journal: Shell Settles Nigeria Case

Times Online: Shell agrees $15.5m settlement over death of Saro-Wiwa and eight others

BFP: Shell Oil Announces Pipeline Spill A Non-Issue – Barbados News Media & Government Ask Zero Questions Of Company Hired To “Ensure Buy-In” To Shell Strategies

BFP: Shell Oil Pollutes And Runs In Barbados. After 15 Years Government Has The Answer: Committee Of Politicians

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Shell Oil Announces Pipeline Spill A Non-Issue – Barbados News Media & Government Ask Zero Questions Of Company Hired To “Ensure Buy-In” To Shell Strategies

So-Called "Clean-Up" By Shell Oil In Barbados

So-Called "Clean-Up" By Shell Oil In Barbados

Shell Report Issued By ERM – Environmental Resources Management – Shell’s Little Environmental Helper For 20 Years

“For over 20 years, ERM has provided a wide range of services to Shell at numerous locations world wide, including North America, Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia Pacific…”

“Shell Haven Refinery – ERM Project Description

Maintained close liaison with UK Environment Agency and local regulatory authority, Shell, and future site developer to ensure buy-in to strategy from all parties and to expedite progress by achieving tacit up-front regulatory acceptance of phased strategy, site-specific risk-based cleanup criteria, and remedial methodology.”

“Original remedial cost estimate before ERM was contracted was $140 million; to date, cost is $14 million, representing 90% in savings with project nearly 90% complete.”

… Above from the Shell Haven Refinery case study report by ERM

Area Wells Still Filled With Jet Fuel, But Don’t Worry About It!

The front page of today’s Barbados Advocate reads “All Clear For Shell Pipeline”. The story tells how Shell Oil hired an environmental consulting company called ERM to do a “study” of the contamination caused by spilled fuel from Shell’s leaky airport pipeline.

Surprise surprise! Everything is okay, don’t you know!

Please excuse me for having my doubts — because five minutes of research on the Internet showed that Environmental Resources Management ERM has been on the Shell Oil payroll for 20 years and has made millions of dollars handling Shell Oil’s sticky wicket environmental situations.

That includes Africa too – and we all know about Shell in Africa, don’t we?

The ERM company website even brags about ensuring that government officials “buy-in to strategy” and how ERM personnel “achieve tacit upfront regulatory acceptance” – meaning that ERM are experts in getting government officials to see things to Shell Oil’s benefit. In the Shell Haven Refinery case listed in Google’s database, the UK government originally demanded a $140 million dollar site clean-up, but ERM reduced that to a far nicer number for Shell Oil: $14 million.

Please excuse me for having doubts about the independence of a company that has banked millions of dollars from Shell Oil contracts over the last 20 years and brags about its ability to have government officials “buy-in” to Shell’s plans.

Not to mention that in Barbados we have no laws that prohibit government officials from receiving gifts or benefits from corporations that need them to provide approvals. You see, it is still legal in Barbados for elected or appointed government officials to use their offices for personal gain.

So once again, please forgive me if I have some doubts.

Oh… how much in “campaign donations” did Shell Oil give to Barbados politicians? There are no laws that govern such donations and you have no right to know about it!

And then there is the little matter that neither the DLP nor the BLP government even passed a simple law compelling pipeline owners to make daily measurements and report any leakage to the government! Shell Oil never kept leakage records or filed them with the government. Meaning that nobody has any idea of the exact amount of Shell jet fuel that leaked into our water table over a ten or twelve year period!

What About Those Wells Filled With Jet Fuel?

Again, pardon me for having some doubts, but I happen to remember that before the DLP were elected they participated in a visit to a well only 500 feet from a beach where a bucket of almost pure jet fuel was raised…

Today, (Thursday 3rd January 2008), I visited Oistins at the Southern Farmers request and witnessed a bucket being lowered into a well close to the road and where an Urban Development project is taken place.

The well was about 500 feet from the beach and when the bucket was lifted it contained what appeared to be almost pure kerosene.

Also there was Mr Lashley, Mr Boyce, Mr Jones and Senator Lowe of the DLP, The PEP candidate, several members of the media including the Advocate, Nation and CBC…

… from the BFP article Barbados Shell Pipeline Jet Fule Leak – “Almost Pure Kerosene” Fills Domestic Water Well

Do You Trust Shell Oil’s “Everything Is Okay” Report?

Sorry folks, but I still have big doubts about this Shell report. How about you?

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Shell Oil Pollutes And Runs In Barbados. After 15 Years Government Has The Answer: Committee Of Politicians

So-Called "Clean-Up" By Shell Oil In Barbados

So-Called "Clean-Up" By Shell Oil In Barbados

UPDATE: March 26, 2010

Friends, here we are over two years since they were elected and the DLP Government of Barbados still hasn’t passed their promised Environmental Legislation.

I know it sounds absurd, but in the decades since our independence successive governments never passed even a simple law compelling pipeline owners to make daily measurements and to report any leakage to the government!

How much money in “election donations” has Shell and associated companies provided to the BLP and DLP over the years? How much did Shell or SOL contribute to Environment Minister Lowe’s last election campaign? How much to Thompson’s campaign?

“None of your business” says Prime Minister Thompson and his gang…

Have a read of this BFP article first published in April of 2009. It’s all still true…

1/ Fifteen Years Ago, Shell Spilled At Least A Half A Million Gallons Of Jet Fuel Into The Barbados Water Table. Shell Has Not Cleaned Up The Spill Or Compensated The Immediate Victims

2/Barbados South Coast Water Table Is Contaminated By Jet Fuel. Our Beaches Are At Risk.

3/ After 15 Years, It Is Now A Proven Fact That Citizens Cannot Rely Upon A BLP or DLP Government To Hold Shell Oil Accountable or Force The Company To Clean Up Their Spill

Continue reading

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