“The Rann Government has well and truly let Mobil off the hook in South Australia’s growing worst practices, as history fails to teach it’s lessons.

“Cleaning up to only an ‘industrial’ standard is the lowest level of clean-up, and it cuts off most other future options for the site.

“Mobil’s clean-up could involve as little as sealing off contaminated hot spots with concrete, rather than removing the contamination.  It would not be a sufficient clean up to enable houses, schools or community facilities to be built.

 “What should be happening is the Government engaging with the local council and the community in a genuine consultation about future uses for the site.  All options should be on the table, and the clean-up should match the needs of the community not Mobil’s bottom line.

 “Whatever mix of future uses is finally decided on, the Greens would like to see the site include employment opportunities to redress the current imbalance in the South between housing and jobs.

“Mobil’s toxic legacy will become someone else’s problem unless the company is made to do a thorough clean-up now,” he said.

Along with many accounts of toxic legacies left behind after the corporate invaders have sucked other peoples lands dry is a common parallel in South Africa concerning Engen

Compare: Fighting South African pollution with Engen Oil Refinery

A native of the highly industrial South Durban area of South Africa, Sven “Bobby” Peek, worked tirelessly with local community groups to ameliorate the severe pollution problems in this region where industry and residences are side by side. Inhabited by working-class people, the valley is also home to two oil refineries (one of which is Africa’s largest), waste water treatment works, numerous toxic waste landfill sites, an airport, a paper-manufacturing plant and a multitude of chemical process industries.

The Engen oil refinery, situated behind Peek’s house, produced 60 tons of sulphur dioxide each day. In the South Durban area alone, more than 100 smoke stacks belch out in excess of 54 million kilograms of sulphur dioxide each year. Meanwhile, toxic leachate runs into storm-water drains and children in local schools have three times the rate of respiratory diseases as children living outside the area.

Every family on Peek’s block, including Peek’s, has lost at least one member to cancer. Peek has mobilized people living in a difficult multi-ethnic environment to speak with a common voice for their rights. He effectively used the media to highlight the constant dangers to public health in the area and his efforts and initiatives have gained national attention.

After meeting with President Mandela in 1995, the local community was granted a long-awaited hearing with the National Minister of Water Affairs regarding the closure of the Umlazi dump site — a toxic landfill operating without a permit. The minister promised to investigate the illegal toxic dump site, but it took further protests, this time by school students suffering adversely because of the site, for the illegal dump finally to be closed in 1997.

Says Sven “Bobby” Peek: “Communities must not relent in their struggle against environmental injustices, and racism should not let the obstacles of industrial and state power foil their quest for the ideal environment. It is in uniting and striving towards a common goal that the ideal can be achieved.”