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Bechtel-Shell Do Not Make Good Neighbors

Bechtel and Shell are two multi-billion dollar, multinational corporations, with a worldwide track record of environmental accidents, safety violations, unethical business practices and human rights abuses. Do they sound like good neighbors for Vallejo?

Bechtel, one of the largest corporations in the world, is a wealthy and powerful private company that profits from building mega-projects for mining, oil and nuclear industries. Bechtel has a habit of leaving a legacy of environmental, social and economic devastation in communities in which it operates.

Bechtel has been cited by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Office for deliberately circumventing safety procedures and attempts to avoid safety controls. Bechtel was also cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 730 incidents of hazardous materials spills between 1990 and 1997.

Internationally, Bechtel has been condemned of human rights abuses in numerous countries. The corporation is suing the dirt-poor people of Cochabamba, Bolivia when the people stopped Bechtel’s monopoly of their water rights. (see Bechtel & Bolivia) Bechtel’s behavior in Bolivia is just one example of its mercenary, greedy behavior towards communities all over the world.

Bechtel is positioning itself as one of the world's leading water privatization entrepreneurs, investing billions of dollars to acquire interests in water privatization companies and development projects across the country and around the world. Locally, San Francisco and Stockton have been struggling to keep Bechtel's hands off their water rights. Interestingly, water is one of Vallejo's most abundant natural resources.

Shell Oil Company
Shell Oil Company, an affiliate of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies, is the tenth largest corporation in the world. Shell is currently being sued for refusing to pull out of South Africa during apartheid, having supplied equipment, investment and technology to a regime pursuing a policy deemed to be a crime against humanity.

More recently, Shell has been condemned worldwide for its practices in Nigeria, including shocking environmental destruction and human rights abuses. Shell “is responsible for 2,976 oil spills between 1976 and 1991 in the Niger Delta alone, with the 1970s spillage totaling more than four times that of the 1989 Exxon Valdez tragedy." (See more on Shell in Nigeria)

In a recent blow, Shell failed in its attempt to block a landmark lawsuit in Federal Court in New York for serious human rights abuses in connection with Shell's oil-well drilling businesses in Nigeria. In that lawsuit, Shell is alleged to have played a major role in the murder of environmental activists Ken Saro-Wiwa and John Kpuinen, leaders in the local Ogoni people's peaceful protests against Shell's practices. Nigeria’s Minister of Environment stated that Shell was behind the phony “trial” that preceded the judicial murder of nine Ogoni environmental activists, including Ken Saro-Wiwa. (see more on lawsuit against Shell)

In 1999 the Federal Trade Commission issued a complaint against Shell for unfair or deceptive acts and practices that violated the Federal Trade Commission Act. Shell produced advertising and promotional materials that represented, expressly or by implication, false or misleading information. (see more on the FTC complaint)

Why are we doing business with multinational corporations like this? If this is their legacy elsewhere, why would they behave differently in Vallejo?


© 2002 maggdog communications
Photos courtesy of Michael Halberstadt, Joyce Scharf and Friends of VallejoCPR
Page Last Updated Jan 8, 2003