Media Release, June 11, 2005
Shell and Bayer Win "Corpse Awards" for Leaks and Spills
SDCEA nominations make an impact
The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, are proud to announce that two of their nominations received awards at tonight's Corpse Awards
2005, held at the Howard College Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-
Natal. This event was hosted by groundWork and Centre for Civil Society
(CCS) and proved to be an exiting evening.
One award was won by SAPREF: Leaking in a Public Place Award - "Because They Can't Hold Their Liquid!"
SAPREF (Shell) is South Africa's biggest crude oil refinery. It is
jointly owned by two 'super-major' global oil corporations - Shell and
BP. SAPREF is the biggest polluter in the highly polluted south Durban
basin, emitting over 13 thousand tonnes of sulphur dioxide and 1.2
million tonnes of carbon dioxide as well as the usual heady mix of
volatile organic compounds per day. Normal operating pollution is
compounded by the pollution produced in incidents, which occur with
appalling regularity. In a few incidents SAPREF's ageing pipelines
ruptured and leaked between one and two million litres of fuel into the
ground beneath local people's houses, and 26 tons of tetra-ethyl-lead
leaked out of a holding tank, which is adjacent to community houses.
Both these "accidents" occurred in 2001. There have been numerous fuel
leaks and weaknesses found in the pipelines over the last few years.
Instead of replacing the pipelines as called for by the SDCEA, Shell has
decided to cut and patch here and there. To deal with the environmental
problems that the community face, Shell has decided to employ more public
relations people to "talk with the community" and set up a "Community
Liaison Forum" which has effectively divided the community voice.
Bayer also won an award: "Accountability and Liability Sucks Award"
Bayer / Lanxess in south Durban is investigating chrome pollution in the
groundwater below residential homes adjacent to their plant. The chrome
production extends back to 1938. Bayer took control of the site in 1974.
The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance nominated Bayer at the last minute.
Residents in the area indicate that in the mid nineties storm water
drains when flooded poured out yellow coloured water, which could have
been discoloured due to chrome contamination. Workers have also suffered
as a result of operations at the plant and in 1997 a study indicated that
34% of the workers suffered from chrome related illnesses. It is alleged
that between 1986 and 1989 three workers died as a result of lung cancer
that was contracted while working at the plant. Water tested from the
area by the Durban Institute of Technology indicates that the Chrome
level is 48 000 times higher than the 0.1 mg/litre that is allowed in
groundwater according to the USA Environmental Protection Agency.
Residential water pipelines are now been replaced up to the water meter,
and not beyond this point.
While the evidence stacks up indicating chrome pollution the company is
trying to duck and dive, not answering questions put to them and claiming
that they are not accountable for any processes before 1974.
We congratulate groundWork and CCS for holding this event. These awards
are important for the community, as it keeps the focus on these polluting
corporations. It strengthens the resolve of the SDCEA and local
communities, to get polluters to clean up and remove their harmful
chemicals from our homes and atmosphere.
For further information, contact Desmond D'Sa on 083 982 6939.
Letter to The Editor, The Mercury
BAYER FULL PAGE ADVERTORIAL IN TODAYS MERCURY
15 June 2005
The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, a reputed environmental justice organization, has always strived to put out accurate and factual information in the public domain. In reading the advertorial, we are concerned that Bayer states that media articles and comments made in recent weeks about the chrome 6 contamination were inaccurate.
We need to question the companys integrity, as they have knowingly dumped chrome 6 for a number of years in and under the Merebank community homes. Why has the company been silent for all these years? Is Bayer denying the duel sampling of the soil and the underground water, and the presentations that were made at these meetings? We are pleased to hear you state that the drinking water is safe, despite the fact it was transported in asbestos pipes (now all being replaced), and that “residents are not at risk. Rest assured, we will get our own tests done, and compare the results with yours and the municipality.
It is interesting to note that you state that “only a small area is affected. If you live in the area, it does not feel small. It seems that Bayer forgets that some of this contamination is found under the Clairwood racecourse. Have any thoroughbred horses been examined for diminished performance?
The statement that “the residents are safe is questionable. To date, there has not been a health study conducted in the area. Have any tests been conducted on fruit or vegetables grown in the area?
We question your statement that “we are at the forefront of efforts to devise and implement solutions to this historical problem. Your actions will speak far louder than any advertorial.
SDCEA Chairperson 083 982 6939