"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
We have received emails seeking our help and advice from ATESQ (*Exposed Chemical Substances Workers Association), all former workers at Shell/Basf Chemicals in Paulinia, Brasil, who won a court case against against both multinationals.
In August 2010 the two companies were ordered to pay a total of 490 million euros in fines and damages for the workers exposure to toxic substances at a Sao Paulo factory.
Extracts from the emails:
We have gained a lawsuit that says Shell and Basf must pay for our medical treatments and pay for the damages they caused to us, but so far nothing has been done. Shell/Basf appealed to a second degree court. They lost at the second degree court and appealed to the upper-federal court, which they lost and right now they have appealed to request a reduction on their monetary penalty.
Judiciary and Politicians here in Brazil are highly influenced by the power Shell and BASF have on them, as well as on the media.
So, they know we have the rights, but nobody imposes them to carry out their obligation.
Matters are complicated by the fact that reportedly BASF is putting all of the blame on Shell, claiming the contamination was “caused and acknowledged by Shell.”
We have suggested that the workers send a representative to the Shell AGM in May to raise the matter during the Q&A Session. We have offered to supply an entry pass.
If anyone has any suggestions on how to assist these Brazilian workers on actually obtaining the monies they have already been awarded, please contact me.
*Associação dos Trabalhadores Expostos a Substâncias Quimicas
Thousands exposed to Shell’s toxic waste in Brazil: Radio Netherlands Worldwide 20 August 2010
Former workers at a Brazilian chemical plant operated by Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell are relieved that a court has ordered the company to pay hundreds of millions of euros in compensation for their exposure to toxic substances.
In the early 1990s an international research agency found that the land and groundwater around the factory were contaminated with pesticides. The substances are known to be carcinogenic and affect the central nervous system.
Multi-million euro fine for Shell and BASF: By Radio Netherlands Worldwide: 20 August 2010
A Brazilian court has ordered Shell Brasil and international chemical giant BASF to pay a total of 490 million euros in fines and damages in connection with the exposure of workers at a Sao Paulo factory to toxic substances, Brazilian media report. Workers suffered health problems including high blood pressure and cancer. The factory, founded by Shell in 1977 and later taken over by BASF, was closed down in 2002.
Shell, Basf Ordered to Pay $354 Million in Brazil Plant Contamination Case: Bloomberg 20 August 2010
The Brazilian units of Basf SE and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. were fined a total of 622 million reais ($354 million) after former workers suffered health problems because of contamination at a plant in Paulinia, Sao Paulo state, from the 1970s to 2002.
Brazil Court Fines Shell, BASF $654M For Toxic Leaks- Report: The Wall Street Journal 21 August 2010
BASF said the ruling was “absurd,” as the contamination was “caused and acknowledged by Shell,” according to the report.
Brazil Court Fines Shell, Basf for Making Workers Sick: Herald Tribune 21 August 2010
The plant was built in 1977 by Shell… Dozens of former employees of the plant have been diagnosed with prostate, thyroid and other types of cancer, circulatory, liver and intestinal illnesses, as well as infertility and sexual impotence, the statement added.