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Shell Toxic Contamination in Curacao

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 15.49.49Yesterday evening, Dutch TV broadcast a documentary feature about a terrible legacy of deadly pollution from the Isla refinery in Curacao built and operated for many decades by Shell. In 1985 Shell sold the refinery to the Antilleans for the symbolic sum of one guilder, leaving behind huge environmental damage. The contract contained clauses demanded by Shell that it would never be held liable for anything. Research reports indicate that the health situation for residents is so serious that every year at least eighteen people die from the pollution.

By John Donovan

Yesterday evening, Dutch TV broadcast a documentary feature about a terrible legacy of deadly pollution from the Isla refinery in Curacao built and operated for many decades by Shell.

NETHERLANDS MUST INTERVENE IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCANDAL ON CURACAO

The refinery was established in 1915 and for many years, Shell was the largest employer on the island.

In 1985 Shell sold the refinery to the Antilleans for the symbolic sum of one guilder, leaving behind huge environmental damage.  The contract contained clauses demanded by Shell that it would never be held liable for anything. Curacao leased the refinery to Venezuela.

There is apparently 2 million tonnes of toxic material (asbestos, heavy metals etc) in a lake of asphalt within an area of 52 hectares.

Research reports indicate that the health situation for residents is so serious that every year at least eighteen people die from the pollution.

With some regularity, the emission of the Isla refinery so high that schools near the Isla have to be closed.

According to the documentary, Shell refuses to comment.

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Caribbean island Curacao faces oil refinery dilemma BBC News 14 May 2012

Extract

Curacao is the paradise island of many a holiday brochure. Its pristine white sand beaches and turquoise sea coupled with excellent diving and a historic capital listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site make it a stop on many Caribbean cruises. But there is a blot on the landscape of this small nation: a huge oil refinery that sits at the heart of the island in a natural deep water bay called Schottegat. “The air is contaminated and there’s a terrible smell of sulphur,” says Edgar Leito who set up a campaign group to protest against the continued use of the refinery.

Shell’s toxic legacy in Curacao

Extract

Shell knew what it had put in the ground. It knew about the asphalt lake and the groundwater problems due to oil leaks. Mr. Gonesh took the view that Shell had handled in a criminal way, by transferring the pollution to simpletons which did not have the resources and know-how for a clean-up.

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