Shell Ordered To Clean Up Toxic Waste In Brazil
Fri, 16 Feb 2001 14:51:32 +0100
SHELL ORDERED TO CLEAN UP ITS TOXIC WASTE IN BRAZIL SIXTEEN YEARS AFTER PLANT CLOSURE: Mayor may evacuate the community from the area
Sao Paulo/Amsterdam, February 16 2001:
Greenpeace today called
on Royal Dutch Shell to ensure that its chemical operation
in Brazil takes full responsibility for decontaminating an
area near Sao Paulo, Brazil, that it contaminated with toxic
for a decade.
Shell Chemicals of Brazil was ordered yesterday by the Sao Paulo State Environmental Protection Agency (CETESB) to clean up the area, 90 kms east of Sao Paulo, where it manufactured the toxic pesticides aldrin, dieldrin and endrin during the 1970s and 80s. Shell admitted that it had contaminated the groundwater and community on 8th February 2001, sixteen years after the plant closed down. Since then, Shell has been providing daily truck with clean drinking water for local residents and has been buying the vegetables produced at the nearby farms that have been sold in Sao Paulo for many years.
Today, having been given 30 days to present a decontamination plan by The Sao Paulo State Environmental Protection Agency, Shell representatives will allow community members, the state prosecutor, CETESB officials (1) and Greenpeace access to the levels of contamination in the surrounding community. The figures (2), leaked to Greenpeace, indicate that levels of dieldrin contamination in the area are twelve times higher than maximum limits set on federal law (resolution 36).
The results also indicate that the historic contamination is dispersing into the community and could reach the nearby Atibaia River, one of the most important tributaries of the Piracicaba River, which provides water to half a million people. The mayor of Paulinia has been requested by his environmental secretary to evacuate the area and will announce his decision at the meeting.
“Shell has finally admitted it has contaminated the groundwater with toxic pesticides and that the contamination is spreading into the community. Now it must take full responsibility and decontaminate all the polluted area. We need immediate action and an urgent evaluation to determine if the river behind the plant was also contaminated,” said Delcio Rodrigues from Greenpeace. “These are dangerous chemicals that the world has agreed to ban (3) because they cause such severe damage to the environment and human health,” he added.
Aldrin, Dieldrin and Endrin are highly toxic, persist and build up in the environment for many years. They have been linked to a wide range of effects on the health and development of both wildlife and humans including learning disorders and the disruption of the hormone system and central nervous system. Of particular concern are the toxic effects of these persistent pollutants on young children and the developing foetus. Shell Chemicals started their pesticide production in Paulinia in 1975. The plant produced Endrin, Aldrin and Dieldrin for ten years. During that period three spills of these materials were officially notified. The production was ceased in 1985 through a legal act of the Health Ministry.
In 1995, Shell sold the facility to American Cyanamid and the German chemical giant - BASF, which now owns the plant. As part of the sale agreement Shell acknowledged publicly in 1995, the contamination of the factory grounds but not the surrounding area and undertook the legal responsibility for its toxic legacy. Until today no decontamination action on site has taken place. “I want to believe this is the beginning of the end of a sad toxic chemical contamination story. I want to see Shell taking responsibility for poisoning my land and causing suffering to this community. I want compensation. I want Justice,” said Paulo Bonaldi, who lives in Paulinia. (4)
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Delcio Rodrigues, Greenpeace Brazil, in Sao Paulo - +55-11-92415623 Tica Minami, Greenpeace Press Desk in Brazil - +55-11-30661178 Matilda Bradshaw, Greenpeace International Press Desk - +31-20- 524 9545
The representative from CETESB that met with Shell is Mr. Orlando Zuliami Cassettari - Director for Pollution Control – can be contacted at +55-11-30306000.
(2) The levels of contamination found by Shell are: sample MW15 - Dieldrin (0,13ppb) sample PM12 - Dieldrin (0,48ppb) sample PM12 - Heptachlor (0,23ppb) sample PM11 - Dieldrin (0,07ppb)
Aldrin,Dieldrin and Endrin have been short-listed by the United Nations Environment Program as one of the 12 Persistent Organic Pollutants slated for action under a global treaty presently being negotiated by over 100 governments. The final meeting to adopt this treaty will be held in May 2001 in Stockholm,Sweden. The UNEP “Dirty Dozen” are: dioxins, furans, PCBs, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, heptachlor, DDT, dieldrin, chlordane, toxaphene, aldrin and endrin.
The community representative, Paulo Bonaldi can be contacted at +55-19-97050913.
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For more information on this press release please contact: Greenpeace International Press Office T: ++ 31 20 5249515 F: ++ 31 20 5236212