Case story

  • Argentina

OECD NCP Netherlands - FOCO & Friends of the Earth Argentina vs. Shell Capsa

2008

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Story

Shell Capsa (subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell) holds many enterprises situated within Argentina (in Buenos Aires and the provinces of Santa Fe and Chaco). The company’s primary activities in Argentina are the transportation, distribution and sale of products derived from crude oil.

The complaint alleges that Shell Capsa has ignored the Argentinean government’s campaigns and public policies regarding sustainable development and that therefore the company has serially violated domestic law. The complaint further states that, with its environmentally and socially irresponsible attitude, Shell Capsa has also put the health of hundreds of neighbouring residents in danger. The Shell Capsa facilities, inspected and preventively closed by government authorities for failure to comply with national environmental laws, are located in an area where many problems exist. Many of these problems stem from the socio-economic vulnerability of the inhabitants of the area.

Directly affected by the Shell Capsa project is the Villa Inflamable community. Villa Inflamable is a neighbourhood whose inhabitants have been living, for decades (and on a daily basis), with the toxic fumes that are produced by the refining of oil by Shell.

The Complainants filed the complaint simultaneously at the Argentine and the Dutch National Contact Points because they believe the violations are a systemic problem in the global operations of the company.

Outcome

On 10 September 2008 the Argentine and Dutch NCPs issued a joint statement admitting the complaint as a formal specific instance. The two NCPs vowed to collaborate closely in handling the case, with the Argentine NCP taking the lead. The Argentinean NCP emphasised the importance of the confidentiality of the process. Although there are parallel legal proceedings, the NCPs did not saw merit in handling the case. The parallel proceedings, have, however, slowed progress in the case. The Argentine NCP prepared a list of “considerations” from the complaint and asked the Complainants and the company to respond, both of which did so. In April 2009, three members of the NCP visited Villa Inflamable to interview residents and see the conditions for itself.

Shell has refused to participate in the specific instance or even recognize the NCP as the appropriate body for addressing the concerns raised in the complaint. In this light, in May 2009 the NCP indicated that it may have to close the case, but offered the parties the possibility of participating in a roundtable meeting outside the official specific instance procedure. The Complainants responded to the NCP’s proposal in May 2009 and indicated that they would be open to such a meeting, but there has since been no word from the NCP.

Additional Information: http://oecdwatch.org/cases/Case_141

Contributor(s): This article was modified by Kyle (3), Ejfturnbull (1).