Another oil spill, slick black waters, dead birds, local fishermen's livelihoods ruined. However this spill was not caused by the usual suspects of shady operators running rusting tankers. This spill was cause by the world's biggest cement multinational Holcim based in Switzerland.
Holcim's workers with no proper equipment removing the oil spill caused by a technical fault at their plant in Kefraya, North of Lebanon.
On the evening of January 5th there was a spill of 50 tonnes of
fueloil at the company's plant in north Lebanon. The oil is used to
fuelthe cement kilns at the plant. When we exposed the spill the
followingday Holcim accepted responsibility. However the clean up
by the companyhas, so far, been completely inadequate, putting the
environment andthe workers at further risk.
The response to the spill has been very slow with the clean up
stillgoing on one week after the spill. Company workers on the
clean upteams lack protective clothing and there is no professional
supervisionto properly clean up the oil. Rocky shores are being
cleaned withoutthe use of the specialised techniques required and
neither the companyor the authorities have fully surveyed the area
to determine the extentof the spill and damage caused. The latest
'solution' proposed byHolcim is to concrete over the rocky areas
polluted by the spill. Maybea great use for some leftover Holcim
cement but not exactly aenvironmentally sound clean up
Holcim knows that it would not be allowed to get away with such
asubstandard response in Europe, but the lack of regulations
andenforcement in developing countries are exploited by companies
likeHolcim where profit is king.
Holcim already has a bad environmental track record. It
continues toburn hazardous waste as fuel in its cement kilns. This
is one of themost polluting methods to deal with hazardous waste as
it spreadspollution to the air and also into the final product,
cement. So ifyour home is built using Holcim cement, from kilns
burning hazardouswaste, there is a fair chance you also have
harmful chemicals in yourwalls. As an industry giant, Holcim should
be leading the cementindustry away from this environmentally
destructive and dangerouspractice.
This is just the latest example of how multinationals exploit
theenvironment and people of the developing world for profit. What
isneeded is international laws to hold corporations criminally
andfinancially liable for damage and compensation for victims
ofindustrial disasters and damage to the environment.
Multinationals like Holcim, Dow and
individuals responsible for illicit or immoral decisions,must not
be allowed to hide behind legal clutter, or to undulyinfluence or
buy governments to avoid their responsibilities andpromote