(Norco, La.) In a bold move to intensify the pressure on Shell, the Concerned Citizens of Norco are today sending their president, Margie Richard, to Shell's international headquarters in Holland to make the case for relocation. "There they are in wonderland, where it's fresh and clean," said Ms. Richard. "They need to know how polluted our neighborhood is, how the air in Diamond makes it hard to breathe, makes you feel sick." Ms. Richard has captured some of the air in a bag and will bring it to her meeting with the Shell director. "I wonder if he would care to breathe this air?" she said.
The meeting with Shell is scheduled for Monday. The increasing international pressure is part of the Diamond community's strategy to gain recognition for their cause. "The Diamond struggle is well-known throughout the U.S.," said Amit Srivastava of Corporate Watch, a San Francisco based organization that will be with Ms. Richard in Holland. "Now the community will take the worldwide stage." Ms. Richard is a featured speaker at a global conference on climate change and the petroleum industry.
Shell's embattled international image has propelled the company this year into a massive public relations campaign. The campaign's ads feature smiling, happy people from communities where Shell operates around the world. "Royal Dutch Shell now says how great the corporation is for communities," said Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, "but Shell in Norco is far removed from that rhetoric. The bitter truth is that the Diamond community suffers at the hands of Shell. The makers of these ads need to see how their company bothers this community every day, and now has plans to divide it."
The trip to Holland comes amidst the continuing struggle between Diamond and Shell, who refuse to locate all four streets of the neighborhood. "What about us?" asked Gaynel Johnson of Diamond, one of the streets not included in Shell's offer. "I live right next to others who are being relocated. They are splitting neighbors, even families apart."
WHEN: Friday, November 17, 2000
Continental Flight 388 to Newark
WHAT TIME: Flight leaves at 2:50 from gate B-10 (subject to change)
WHERE: New Orleans Airport
Will gather at the Continental Desk at 1:15; will then proceed to gate