(New Orleans, Louisiana) A delegation of Bucket Brigade activists from Louisiana will travel to the World Summit on the Environment in Johannesburg, South Africa, to highlight the global problem of corporate irresponsibility and pollution. The delegation includes community members, such as Margie Richard of Norco, active in Cancer Alley campaigns to document their local pollution problems and win relocation away from heavy industry. The World Summit will be the planet’s largest gathering of governments, industry and environmental groups ever held.
“We will be putting a spotlight on what the corporations are doing to fenceline communities with their pollution,” said Margie Richards of Norco. “We continue to ask: will you to true to what you say on paper about cleaner air and water and being a good neighbor, because the talk doesn’t seem to match the walk. We helped Shell to see the light in Norco, to understand how to do business in the right way. Norco is an inspiration to communities around the world, and we are going to share our experience.”
Ms. Richard and her community’s decades long struggle with the giant Shell Corporation in Norco, Louisiana gained an international spotlight as a pivotal environmental justice battle. Communities in South Africa have followed that campaign with great interest and have drawn inspiration from the recent victory resulting in full relocation of the Diamond neighborhood. She has traveled throughout the world -- to Nigeria, Geneva, the
Hague -- in solidarity with other oil impacted communities to spread the
word about her neighborhood’s battle for justice.
Also traveling with Ms. Richards to South Africa are:
Jonathan Hawkins - Norco, Louisiana, 14 years old and a youth intern for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Concerned Citizens of Norco. He actively chronicles environmental crimes in his neighborhood. He has taken air samples, water samples, photographs and videos of pollution from the Shell plant near his home. Jonathan likes music and wants to major in psychology in college.
Ida Mitchell - New Sarpy, Louisiana has lived in the New Sarpy area all her life and is Vice President of Concerned Citizens of New Sarpy. She remembers the days before industry moved in, when her town and those nearby stood amidst fields of sugar cane. She is a leader in her community's fight against Orion Refinery for a just and fair relocation.
Anne Rolfes - New Orleans, Louisiana, the founder and Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB). She was a member of the negotiating team for the landmark agreement between Shell and the Concerned Citizens of Norco, Louisiana that resulted in the successful relocation of the community. She lived in West African for three years and authored Shell Shocked Refugees, a report about the Ogoni refugees forced into exile because of Shell's destruction of their land.
Denny Larson - San Francisco, California, founder and director of the Global Community Monitor (GCM), a non-profit that assist communities in establishing community environmental monitoring programs. He established the first comprehensive "Bucket Brigade" community air-monitoring program and invented a widely used method for training people to document toxic exposure and illness in 1996. Larson helped establish "Bucket Brigades" throughout the USA and Southern Africa to empower community members to hold government and industry accountable for pollution impacts. He has also helped dozens of communities negotiate health and safety improvements from major polluters. He worked with the Diamond Community in Norco, Louisiana, since 1995 to win relocation from Shell.
The delegation will participate in a global pre-conference event sponsored by the leading Southern Africa environmental justice group, groundwork. That conference focuses on Corporate Accountability and community struggles. The conference culminates in a environmental award ceremony highlighting public relations ploys by industry or “greenwashing” and the awarding of “Oscars” for companies that are covering up environmental sins.
In addition the group will tour and make solidarity visits with communities battling Shell and the SASOL Corporation in South Durban, Sasolburg and Secunda, South Africa. These communities are using the Bucket Brigade method to track harmful pollution as well.