Senate: Help Curacao tackle environmental pollution from ISLA refinery

19 June 2013

Senate: Help Curacao tackle environmental pollution from ISLA refinery

Should the government of Curacao – formerly a Dutch colonial possession and now an autonomous region of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – request it, the Dutch government must offer its aid in maintaining environmental standards at the ISLA oil refinery, which for years has been responsible for serious pollution on the Caribbean island. A motion to that effect proposed by SP Senator Nanneke Quik won the support of every political party in the Dutch Senate, with the sole exception of the hard right PVV.

Nanneke Quik

From 1915 to 1985 Shell ran the refinery on Curacao, after which, for the symbolic sum of a single guilder, the Dutch multinational transferred ownership to the island’s government. The plant was then run by the Venezuelan oil concern PDVSA. While Shell left a legacy of a colossal poisonous artificial lake of asphalt, the residue of the production of benzene and aircraft fuel, PDVSA has since been responsible for thirty million kilos of CO2, a by-product of the process, which has been discharged into the air breathed by 20,000 local residents. The results have been serious damage to these peoples’ health.

Curacao is legally responsible for maintaining environmental standards, but in reality the refinery calls the shots. For that reason, residents and local politicians are turning to the Netherlands for help, and the broadly-backed motion from Senator Quik supports this call on the Dutch government to provide aid in order that Curacao can actually hold ISLA to the established environmental requirements. The resolution states also that both Shell and PVDSA must have as much involvement as possible. Shell’s current position is that it has no longer any obligation to help, while PVDSA shows little concern for environmental norms.

You are here