Global Protests Target IncoPublished by MAC on 2003-10-07
Global Protests Target Inco
Communities around the world organize united front against Nickel Giant
For Immediate Release - October 7, 2003
Toronto, Ontario - Communities around the world are joining forces today in the first ever global day of action against Canadian mining giant Inco Limited. The World Unites Against Inco is the first time Inco has had to face united opposition in most of the areas where it operates.
Protest activities are taking place in the Canadian communities of Port Colborne, Sudbury and Toronto, Ontario; Thompson, Manitoba; St. John's, Newfoundland; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and on Prince Edward Island. Abroad, activities are planned in Indonesia, New Caledonia (Goro), Guatemala, New York, London, England, Australia, Japan and Wales. Communities are demanding that Inco take responsibility for the environmental and health impacts of its mining.
"Inco remains the worst mining polluter in Canada. Inco has also left a legacy of pollution and environmental destruction around the world," said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence Canada. "For the first time communities are joining together to form a united network against Inco. The opportunities to share knowledge, technical information and strategies creates a very powerful new tool."
The company already faces many challenges resulting from its inferior environmental practices. In Canada, families in Port Colborne, Ontario launched a $750 million class-action lawsuit against Inco for years of toxic nickel pollution that has contaminated their homes, schoolyards and playgrounds. Residents in Sudbury are now discovering their soil has also been heavily polluted, much like Port Colborne. Major studies are underway and Inco faces significant potential liability.
In other countries, Inco's record on indigenous land claims and human rights issues also threatens the company. Major new native land claims in Indonesia may well curtail or halt the company's operations in that country. The Goro project in New Caledonia, already delayed due to labour unrest and large cost overruns, may soon be further undermined by a new campaign to have the island's coral reef system declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, significantly limiting development.
"It's a disgrace," said Bruno Van Petehgem, a community leader in New Caledonia who received a Goldman Environmental Prize for his efforts to protect the reef system. "The big companies come here because there are no rules. Just money."
Protest activities vary from area to area. In Canada, protestors have organized various activities at the campus of Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland, including outdoor theatre, a vigil, an evening teach-in and film screening. In Sudbury, the local chapter of the "Raging Grannies" will be protesting at Inco main plant gates. In New York City, a meeting of Wall Street financial analysts that Inco Chairman and CEO Scott Hand will be addressing has been targeted.
"All of these activities are intended to let the world know just what kind of corporate citizen Inco really is," said Diana Wiggins, a Port Colborne resident and organizer of the day of action. "By coming together around the world, we believe we can be much more effective in making governments, the public and investors aware of how socially and environmentally irresponsible Inco has been. Inco has a simple choice. It can either continue to be one of the world's worst mining companies and face increasing organized opposition, or it can clean up its act."