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Dutch Public Prosecution Service suing Shell for explosion and leak at Moerdijk

Between November 2015 and January 2016, 380 kilos of the carcinogenic substance ethylene oxide went into the air every day. Justice now states that Shell has not taken enough measures to prevent such accidents: “By acting in this way they have put workers and people in the environment in danger,” according to the Public Prosecution Service.

English translation of an article published in Dutch by nrc.nl earlier today

Justice summons Shell for explosion and leakage in Moerdijk

In 2014, two people were injured in a fire. Two years later, a Shell plant leaked carcinogens.

Maartje Geels: 1 March 2019

The fire in 2014 at a Shell complex on an industrial estate in Moerdijk was then seen in Rotterdam. Photo GinoPress / ANP

The Public Prosecution Service (OM) is suing Shell for an explosion and a leak at a complex of the oil and gas company in Moerdijk. This confirms justice Friday in response to reports from Het FD. Earlier on Friday, it was also announced that Shell is being prosecuted for corruption in Nigeria.

Justice can not yet say precisely to NRC what offences the Shell in Moerdijk suspects exactly. However, a spokesperson for the Public Prosecutor says that Shell, because it works with hazardous substances, is obliged to implement a strict prevention policy to prevent serious accidents. According to the judiciary, the oil company has failed to do so twice, as a result of which “employees and people in the area have been put at risk”.

One of the incidents is an explosion in 2014. An explosion on the industrial estate in Moerdijk caused a major fire at the time. Two people were injured. In addition to the fire, the Justice Department also prosecuted ethylene oxide about three years ago, due to leakage of the toxic substance. Between November 2015 and January 2016, 380 kilos of the carcinogenic substance ethylene oxide went into the air every day.

‘Environment endangered’

Shell itself concluded afterwards that the emissions into the air had not led to the exceeding of the statutory standards. According to the company, the incident had “no adverse health consequences”. The GGD mentioned the chance that local residents might be at extra risk of developing cancer, at the time “negligibly small”.

Justice now states that Shell has not taken enough measures to prevent such accidents: “By acting in this way they have put workers and people in the environment in danger,” according to the Public Prosecution Service. The Safety Board also concluded after the fire in 2014 that Shell Moerdijk should have been “more critical of the safety risks“. The case is scheduled for mid-May.

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