Published On: Fri, Oct 23rd, 2015

SMOC: “75 million guilders oil refinery is not for SMOC!”

Oil refineryWILLEMSTAD – From various media reports in the last days it seems as if the environmental foundation SMOC is after the 75 million guilders of the oil refinery to bring the company’s existence in danger. These reports are totally false, according to SMOC in a press release. The environmental organization informs what exactly is going on.

SMOC is 1 of 26 claimants in the case of the 75 million guilders.

The case of 75 million guilders is a matter of lead plaintiff, Humane Care Foundation, and co-plaintiffs foundation SMOC and 24 residents (four European Dutch, 20 locals). One of the citizens is now deceased due to cancer. SMOC is one of 26 plaintiffs.

“SMOC is a foundation established in 2003 and has only one goal: clean air for residents living in the shadow of oil refinery Isla and the Build Own and Operate (BOO) plant. SMOC is not for closure of Isla.

SMOC consists of volunteers who have no interest, no buying land and are not paid for the work they do. Yes, the rumors are there, but they do not make sense. SMOC helps residents under the smoke, by visiting them, listen to them, and give information and advice.

The board of SMOC consists of professionals: physician, chemical engineer and chemist. SMOC is assisted by top experts in the field of refineries. All disinterested.”

If Isla has to pay 75 million guilders it is because 2010 they have been sentenced on appeal by the court to that fine. A fine can only be imposed if the refinery emits more sulfur dioxide than is permitted, because it is very harmful for the health. Isla knows this already for five years now. Since 2010, emissions of sulfur dioxide, however, did not decrease, but has seriously increased, and experts have identified that in 2013 the Isla has emitted more sulfur dioxide than is permitted. Plaintiffs have therefore decided to uphold that penalty.

The court has set the fine at 75 million guilders. That's a huge amount, but according to the court it is not so high to bring Isla in financial trouble. These are just a few days or weeks profit. Moreover, the fine was meant to ensure that Isla would do everything possible to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide. That has not happened and the complaints of residents have increased dramatically. The operations of the oil refinery are not threatened by SMOC.

If Isla pays, SMOC Foundation will receive more than 2 million guilders, the other co-plaintiffs receive jointly over 72 million guilders. Not someone from SMOC gets the money, the foundation receives it. If that money were to come to SMOC, SMOC will use that money entirely for the sole purpose of SMOC’s ideal: cleaner air. This can be done by helping residents under the smoke, e.g. with an air conditioner, or help move them, clean up the green deposits, assisting in medical care, paying for medicines etc. A notary will ensure that if Isla must pay the fines, the more than two million guilders allocated to SMOC, as one of the 26 plaintiffs, will be used to benefit the people close to the Isla.

For SMOC it’s not about the money, it’s not for self-interest, or properties under the smoke or close to Isla. Every accusation indicating these three points is false, said the Director of the environmental organization, Drs. Peter van Leeuwen.

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