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10 May 2016

First People's Worldwide "Risk Alert" on Sempra Energy regarding Mexico and USA

In April 2016, First People's Worldwide issued a "Risk Alert" on Sempra Energy regarding concerns from the Yaqui Tribe in Sonora, Mexico over its construction of a pipeline through their land, and the October 2015 gas leak in California: see below.  Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Sempra's responses to both incidents:

- Response regarding indigenous rights in Sonora, Mexico (further coverage of the concerns, in Spanish, are here)

- Response regarding the gas leak in Los Angeles (further coverage of this incident is here)

First People's Worldwide Risk Alert:

"The Yaqui Tribe in Sonora, Mexico is denouncing Sempra Energy for violating their territorial sovereignty while building the Agua Prieta Pipeline through their land. According to a statement from the tribe, the company obtained signatures from community members through fraudulent acts, circumvented their traditional decision making process, and is failing to guarantee protection of the environment. The tribe is pursuing legal action and physical blockades to stop construction.

This is not the only area where Sempra is running into trouble. In October 2015, one of the company’s natural gas storage facilities near Los Angeles sprung a leak which was not plugged until February 2016. Thousands of people had to be evacuated, and the company is facing criminal charges and as much as $900 million in legal and regulatory expenses. Additionally, a class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the company’s shareholders over its alleged failure to disclose that it “lacked the capability to expeditiously repair gas leaks, causing a public hazard.”

Poor performance at one site indicates high probability of poor performance at other sites. The consequences of Sempra’s negligence in Los Angeles should not be scrutinized in isolation; they call for attention to the company’s broader strategy (or lack thereof) for managing ESG risks throughout its operations."