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18 Feb 2021

The Water Diplomat

UK govt. accepts human rights complaint against Glencore & starts investigation into Chad water contamination incidents

"UK Government Will Investigate Chad Water Contamination Complaint Against Mining Giant Glencore", 8 February 2021

The UK government accepted in January that issues raised in a complaint filed against UK mining firm Glencore in respect of its handling of two contamination incidents at its Badila oilfield in southern Chad “merit further examination”.

The complaint, filed by three human rights groups, alleges violations of OECD guidelines and details environmental and human rights harms as well as social engagement failures by the company.

The two incidents occurred in 2018: the first when an earth bank supporting a wastewater basin collapsed spilling 85 million litres of contaminated water onto neighbouring fields and into the Nya Pende River, which is the main source of water for the local population. The second occurred a few weeks later, when locals reported oil leaking from a pipe. Glencore disputes the latter incident.

Following the first incident, at least 50 local residents, including children, reported burns, skin lesions, sickness and diarrhoea after bathing in or using contaminated river water in the following weeks. Some required hospitalisation. Livestock and fish also perished, and agricultural land was contaminated...

...The complaint filed on behalf of the local communities by UK-based corporate watchdog Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID), the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) in Chad and the Association of Young Chadians of the Petroleum Zone (AJTZP) accuses Glencore of breaching OECD guidelines by failing to conduct appropriate environmental and human rights due diligence, respect the human rights of local communities, provide remediation for the harm caused, disclose material information, ensure meaningful stakeholder engagement and contribute to the communities’ sustainable development.

The complaint was accepted in January by the UK National Contact Point (NCP) at the Department for International Trade which oversees the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises for responsible business conduct of UK-based companies operating domestically or overseas. The Guidelines set standards across a range of issues such as human rights, labour rights and the environment...