Assessing Shells Environmental Responsibility in Vila Carioca

Shell defines its purpose as “ to run into the energy demands of society, in ways that are economically, socially and environmentally feasible, now and in the hereafter. ” Shell was one of the innovators in the motion for Corporate Social Responsibility. The company says it is committed to sustainable development and human rights: “ Our nucleus values of honestness, unity and regard for people define how we work. These values have been embodied for more than 25 old ages in our Business Principles, which since 1997 have included a committedness to back up human rights and to lend to sustainable development. ”[ 2 ]The instance in Vila Carioca ( Sao Paulo City ) below illustrates a tough determination the company must do in order to maintain its committednesss, particularly when the company ‘s past actions occurred in a different institutional and regulative environment.

Vila Carioca is a vicinity in the southern portion of Sao Paulo, the largest metropolis in South America.[ 3 ]Greenpeace and the Union of Workers in the Mining and Petroleum Sector ( Sinpetrol ) alleged in the ninetiess that the part had its dirt, air and H2O contaminated by several pollutants from industrial activities that took topographic point in the country. The pollution may hold contaminated about 30,000 people shacking in the country.[ 4 ]Shell is accused of being one of the chief beginnings responsible for the pollution among companies runing in the part. One national newspaper ( Folha de Sao Paulo ) considers that Vila Carioca may be the most contaminated country in Sao Paulo, if this accusal is true.[ 5 ]Shell has been in the country since 1951 and has disposed big sums of residues in the dirt for decennaries, which may finally be the beginning of dirt, air and belowground H2O taint. The liability can make important values, as some specializers conclude that portion of the land should be expropriated for killing and those dwelling the country should be relocated and compensated. However, the company claims that it followed all bing environmental Torahs and used the best engineerings available. Actually, most of the stuff was disposed of long before the new environmental Torahs were passed. The ordinances applicable at the clip were followed, and Shell used world-wide criterions and the best available engineering. Sometimes the company even did more than the jurisprudence asked. There were besides other industrial companies with environmental jobs in the part that may hold contributed to the job. Shell argues that many perceptual experiences of people involved are based on rumours and non-scientific facts. The company says that it worked with scientific information and the job is non every bit awful as the media portrays. Therefore, to what extent is Shell responsible for work outing the job? Should the company be apt for the job? Can the behaviour of Shell in the instance be considered ethical and moving harmonizing to its rules of societal and environmental duty?

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Vila Carioca is a typical working category vicinity that could be found around many industrialized countries in developing states ( DC ) . The part grew as a mix of industrial and residential countries with small be aftering for dividing the population from hazard activities, such as oil armored combat vehicles and grapevines ( see Figure 1 at the terminal of the instance ) . Initially, in the 1950s, Vila Carioca was merely an industrial zone, but as the metropolis of Sao Paulo grew at a fast ( and unplanned ) gait, people started to travel in and set up their abodes around the industrial workss. After the 1970s, many workss closed down or moved due to the de-industrialization of parts of the metropolis of Sao Paulo. This significantly increased the proportion of residential colony in Sao Paulo. The colonies were both formal ( titled and licensed ) and informal ( slums or favelas, and unlicensed lodging built on ignoble land ) .

The environmental history of Shell in Vila Carioca started in 1951, when the company built a storage armored combat vehicle and a terminus in the country. These installations were upgraded several times and the works was still runing in 2004. Shell besides had a works which produced pesticides. However, this works moved out of Vila Carioca in the seventiess. Shell ‘s installations have ever had the best available engineering and had followed the current environmental ordinances every bit good as universe criterions.

The Discovery

In March of 2003, the metropolis authorities announced that an country of 180,000 square metres ( about 25 association football Fieldss ) around the Shell works in Vila Carioca was contaminated with assorted toxic pollutants, including heavy metals[ 6 ]and “ drins. ”[ 7 ]The metropolis lawyer sued Shell and the State Environmental Agency ( CETESB ) , which were severally accused as a beginning of the pollution and carelessness in implementing the environmental Torahs.

However, the instance was criticized much earlier than the 2003 case. In 1993, Greenpeace and the Union of Workers in the Mining and Petroleum Sector ( Sinpetrol ) filed a joint tribunal ailment against Shell. The instance was left to the State Environmental Agency ( CETESB ) , who took merely minor steps before the metropolis officially entered in the instance.

For decennaries, industrial workss in the part discharged toxic pollutants in the dirt and air, and in making so they had besides contaminated the belowground H2O. Initially, six Wellss in the part were closed. Although there was merely one officially registered good in the part, there were others that were “ unofficial ” or clandestine. In one of the Wellss, whose H2O was used for human ingestion, the degree of dieldrin ( one of the “ Drins ” ) in the H2O was 0.327 mcgs per litre, more than one hundred times the permitted bound of 0.03 mcgs per litre. A study from the public lawyer ( Ministerio Publico ) estimated that the pollution could impact the population. The metropolis public lawyer for accusal ( Promotor Publico ) estimated that every bit many as 30,000 people in the vicinity could hold been affected.[ 8 ]

Those brooding in the country were in desperation when they found out about the pollution jobs that they hardly understood. Many of them were non informed officially about the job, as a adult female said: “ I was born here and I merely knew about the instance through the newspapers. I had ever planted veggies in the pace, and I thought my household was eating healthy nutrient… . ”[ 9 ]Others even said they suspected that something was incorrect with the H2O. “ The H2O is xanthous, smelly and the beads even stain the apparels… ” another adult female mentioned.

Until 2002, about ten old ages after the first charges in 1993, many people still felt abandoned by the public governments and Shell, as they fought in tribunal. Meanwhile, nil was done and about no 1 was decently informed about the state of affairs. The population underwent a few voluntary medical trials which were completed by two private clinics at the petition of an probe squad from the metropolis council.[ 10 ]Other inhabitants were afraid Vila Carioca would go a “ shade ” vicinity, as some occupants were traveling out. In the sea of misinformation, some feared the worst: eruptions of awful diseases, the taint of their childs, a bead in the monetary value of their existent estate, or even that the occupants of Vila Carioca would go stereotypic as contaminated people.

Despite the fortunes, many local occupants wanted Shell to remain. Shell provided occupations and income, and many occupants and neighbours of Vila Carioca really worked for Shell. Non-employees were afraid if Shell moved, the adjacent slum ( favela ) of Heliopolis would spread out to busy Shell ‘s land and increase the overall size of the favela.

ShellA?s Position[ 11 ]

Shell was established in Brazil in 1913 and in Vila Carioca in 1951. The company works in the sectors of fuel distribution, production of lubricators and chemicals, and most late crude oil geographic expedition. Its net income was R $ 7.65 billion in 2000.[ 12 ]The company provides 2,130 direct occupations and about 60,000 indirect occupations ( associated and contracted companies and service Stationss ) . It is the largest private distributer of fuel in the state, accounting for about 20 % of the market. It has a web of 3,000 gas Stationss around the state.[ 13 ]In Vila Carioca, Shell has a distribution terminus with the capacity of 50 million litres, and used to hold a pesticide works until the seventiess. There were 165 employees in the terminus in 2002, a figure that is comparatively low compared to the figure of workers in the yesteryear when Shell produced pesticides.[ 14 ]

The metropolis authorities claims that the dirt and belowground H2O in the part environing Shell ‘s belongings is contaminated with organic and lead compounds, which in the yesteryear were used as additives to the gasolene. Before the 1970s and prior to the magnitude of current environmental issues, those compounds were the consequence of Shell ‘s normal processs to clean up gasolene armored combat vehicles. The residues from the internal crust of the gasolene armored combat vehicles were merely buried in the dirt during several decennaries until the seventiess. In the yesteryear, these were the standard processs in the crude oil sector around the universe.

The company had taken several actions to rectify this job, such as carry oning surveies to do the company ‘s processs more environmentally friendly and incinerating 2,500 dozenss of contaminated dirt and fuel crust. However, representatives of Sinpetrol ( labour brotherhood ) said these actions were non plenty. They claimed Shell had the duty of avoiding the scattering of the pollutants to countries outside the company by palisading off the affected countries with concrete.

The public lawyer thought the province environmental bureau ( CETESB ) was excessively indulgent with Shell in the instance and said in April 2002, “ Shell ‘s actions limited the stuff that was the beginning of the taint and left the decay of the pollutants in the subterraneous H2O to natureaˆ¦ Furthermore, CETESB agreed with this state of affairs. ”[ 15 ]The functionary from the province environmental bureau ( CETESB ) argued “ the consciousness and techniques to cover with contaminated countries are recent, both to us and to the companies, so we expect things go quicker now than they did ten old ages ago ”[ 16 ].

Even though Shell implemented many actions to seek to work out the jobs, it kept soundless in many instances to avoid being deemed the lone responsible company in the instance. When both Shell and the province environmental bureau ( CETESB ) were sued, they preferred non to notice on the claim. Shell mentioned in a note to the populace that the redress of the job had been carried out, and that “ the company had stiff codifications of behavior and values to presume its duty for the consequences of its operation. ”[ 17 ]

Other companies were suspected of lending to the taint. For illustration, BR ( a subordinate of Petrobras, a province endeavor, which is the largest company in the state ) kept a sedimentation of 250 old armored combat vehicles and several trucks in a belongings following to Shell ‘s. Those armored combat vehicles were thought to leak fuel into the dirt. BR still operates its works. One hundred or more industrial workss were located in the part, runing from pigments, refineries, fuels and other chemicals. Besides, the traffic is intense, and Shell itself received more than 200 vehicles per twenty-four hours.

In relation to the “ drins ” , Shell did non ab initio accept the charge. The company argued that the compounds came from other companies in the part, such as the belly-up pesticide works from the Matarazzo group. However, subsequently on, representatives of Shell admitted that the concentration of certain drins in parts of the dirt of the company was over the recognized criterions. In the instance of Aldrin, the concentrations reached 1,320 times the bounds established by the province environmental bureau ( CETESB ) . The concentration of Isodrin peaked at 2,450 times the allowed concentration in the European Union where the company has its central office. Shell produced pesticides ( the beginning of drins ) from the 1940s until the seventiess, when the pesticide works was transferred to Paulinea in the province of Sao Paulo.[ 18 ]The company besides argues that the organic lead found in the country was non from the company, because it transformed its organic lead into inorganic lead before burying it belowground.

From the beginning of Shell ‘s environmental jobs in Vila Carioca, the company received several mulcts. It was fined one time by the regional office of the metropolis authorities ( for operation without proper licence ) and four times by the province environmental bureau ( for H2O taint and hold in describing the conditions of its H2O and dirt ) between 1993 and 2003.[ 19 ]However, until 2003, the company had yet to pay and had appealed all of these mulcts.

The taint of the H2O charge was besides challenged by Shell. In the beginning, Shell merely admitted to the taint of its belongings even after Shell hired a house who produced a proficient study which mentioned the taint of the vicinity ‘s H2O in 2000. The H2O taint was besides found by the municipal healthful bureau at a ulterior day of the month. The metropolis started to place the people, who live around the company, to analyse the grade of exposure they had to the taint of the H2O.

The company has carried out several surveies to happen out about the taint and its impacts on the environment and on the population, including hazard analysis and redress programs for the whole part. Harmonizing to a Shell Environmental Health and Safety director, the company ‘s Risk Assessment and Environmental Report of the part is the “ largest and most complete environmental survey in a specific country of all time done in Brazil. ”[ 20 ]These surveies were needed to fulfill demands from both the province and municipality ; nevertheless, the province environmental bureau ( CETESB ) concluded that the surveies conducted for the municipality did non suit the province demands. This dissension between the two governmental units created more confusion.

The company says that it is “ moving in a clear, crystalline and responsible mode sing all stakeholders, such as public functionaries, media and population. ”[ 21 ]However, until 2002, Shell did non actively inform those stakeholders about the job. The company besides did non direct representatives to a meeting organized by the community in Vila Carioca to discourse the job and solutions. A wellness cheque carried out voluntarily by a private clinic found a high incidence of lead in the organic structure in nine out of the 28 persons analyzed, with four people in an elevated phase of taint. Neither Shell nor the province environmental bureau ( CETESB ) recognized the trial as valid, and claimed that the methodological analysis was flawed.[ 22 ]Harmonizing to surveies of hazard appraisal carried out by specialised houses, Shell alleged that wellness cheques were the duty of public organisations, so the company did non mean to transport out these cheques on the population populating around the works. The tribunals besides denied the petition of the public lawyer to necessitate Shell to make the wellness cheques. Shell claims that the instance is non every bit dramatic as the media has portrayed it to be, so there is no demand for terror. The company besides thinks that this state of affairs is the duty of the public governments. Shell employees say that the community and some public governments do non understand their place, and are moving emotionally alternatively of scientifically.

There are several other demands made for Shell since the initial taint determination. The province environmental bureau has asked the company to put in flexible roofs to capture portion of the bluess that were coming from the fuel armored combat vehicles make fulling the trucks. The municipal healthful bureau wants Shell to assist the vicinity population, despite the assorted consequences of the probes over the taint.

The last dialogues involved a legal understanding for action among Shell, the municipality, the province and public lawyers. This understanding, known as the Term of Adjustment of Conduct ( TAC in Portuguese ) , would necessitate Shell to take several lawfully adhering actions to rectify the environmental jobs and seek intervention for the affected population. Though the company was ever unfastened to dialogue, it was untalkative sing the wellness issues. Shell indicated it needed a clear confidence that the environmental issues resulted straight from their activities, and were non the effects of the taint from the many other companies in the part.

Shell argues that “ we are portion of the society, so we want to work out the job jointly. ”[ 23 ]The company is willing to presume some duty in the instance as a socially responsible corporation, and promises to handle the instance decently and scientifically by lending to the demands and public assistance of the community ; nevertheless, Shell wants to do certain that similar instances will non go on once more.

The company wants to handle the instance strictly from the scientific point of position by utilizing the best methods and techniques of hazard appraisal and hazard direction. They see no point in disbursement immense sums of resources to clean up the country wholly because the hazard is overcome if no 1 drinks the subterraneous H2O. Furthermore, Shell claims other companies may besides be responsible and the job rather perchance may go on into the hereafter. The killing will non better the quality of life of Vila Carioca or Sao PauloA?s dwellers since belowground taint and other environmental jobs such as air and H2O pollution are common in the metropolis. Shell argues that it prefers to utilize its resources to lend to the society in a more reasonable manner with other societal and environmental enterprises.

ShellA?s Environmental Responsibility

The instance of Vila Carioca is similar to many other instances of environmental taint in Brazil and other parts of the universe. The job exists, but stakeholders are non cognizant of the grade of the job, who caused it, to what extent, and who should be held responsible. Furthermore, there are clear differences among stakeholder perceptual experiences. The population and some public governments perceive the instance as dramatic and fear the consequences of the taint. Shell, based on its surveies and proficient capacity, says that the job is non terrible and denies the demand for worrying one time there is a really low hazard of human taint.

Shell is a company with rigorous public codifications of behavior sing societal and environmental issues. In the instance, the company followed all bing environmental guidelines since the beginning of the environmental ordinance in Brazil in 1970s, and had even done more than the ordinances asked in some instances. The taint seemed to hold occurred before ordinances were established and from an old works that closed down decennaries ago.

Even though the company was defensive in some cases, it worked closely with the public governments responsible for the instance, and took several actions to rectify the job.

Furthermore, Shell was one of the many companies runing in Vila Carioca. It was the chief suspect for doing the job, but non the lone 1. Other companies may be responsible as good, such as BR Distribuidora ( Petrobras ) , a pesticide works of Matarazzo Group, which does non even exist any longer ( and it is suspected that it left mussy environmental jobs ) , every bit good as tonss of smaller companies.

Therefore, several inquiries can be raised sing the instance.

Questions about Shell:

To what extent is Shell responsible for the job?

Have its actions been plenty to get by with the job?

Should the company presume liability and pay for the complete cleansing up and counterbalance the people who were contaminated?

Can the behaviour of Shell in the instance be considered ethical and moving harmonizing to its Business Principles?

Questions about transnational companies and regulative issues based on the instance:

Should multinational companies use in the host state ‘s the same environmental criterions they have in their place states? Even if these criterions make their activities much more expensive and less competitory? If the Shell instance were in a developed state ( USA or Europe for case ) , would Shell ‘s behavior be different?

Should multinational companies be expected to follow higher environmental criterions than a local company in a underdeveloped state because they have more entree to fiscal resources and engineering?

Should a company like Shell agree with the perceptual experience of the people in the community and act harmonizing to this, even if this perceptual experience is non based on scientific information? Or should it move merely harmonizing to scientific information?

Should the company that contaminates the environment expend a batch of money to clean it up even when there is no hazard to the population? Or should it utilize its resources for other more pressing environmental and societal demands?

Should a company be apt for negate environmental and societal impacts that happened in the yesteryear, even when it followed purely all environmental ordinances bing at the clip?

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Assessing Shells Environmental Responsibility in Vila Carioca. (2016, Nov 26). Retrieved from