Saturday, August 12, 2006
Total and the Environment (part 1)
Total are notorious for their human rights abuses; from Burma to the Democratic Republic of Congo Total are happy to be responsible for rape, torture, murder and genocide as long as they get the oil.
But it doesn’t stop here; Total are also responsible for appalling crimes against the environment. Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth have joined the international coalition against Total and environmentalists worldwide have campaigned for years against Total’s destruction of our planet. It’s not surprising also that Total’s environmental and human rights abuses are closely linked. By destroying the environment Total are destroying the lives of the people who live there and depend on it for food, work and materials.
Take Nigeria for example; here Total extract millions of dollars worth of oil every day. In extracting the oil, natural gas is also produced as a by-product; but instead of building a sustainable plant to collect and liquefy the gas to be used in the future Total takes the cheap option and engages in the notorious act of gas flaring. Total’s plants simply burn off the gas–creating huge flames and releasing poisonous fumes twenty four hours per day. Here Total is both devastating the environment and the lives of the Nigerian people. Children have grown up never knowing a dark night thanks to Total’s enormous gas flares lighting up the sky without pause.Che Ibegwura lives in Erema, an Egi community in Rivers State, Nigeria long devastated by Total’s gas flares. He stated:
"For many years, we have been living with continuous flaring of gas from Total...Our farmlands have been polluted. We labour hard to plant but little comes out. Our roofs are corroded. Our air is polluted. Our children are sick. Even the rainwater we drink is contaminated with black soot from the gas flares. We cannot continue with this suffering. We need to take legal action to protect ourselves, our children and our future."
This one story is shared by thousands across Africa from Nigeria to Sudan as a result of Total’s environmental devastation ruining the continent, the country and the lives of those who live under Total’s refineries and flares without ever seeing the benefits of the oil taken from under them.