No2VAG’s request falls on deaf ears

December 6, 2011 9:42 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

No2VAG is a north London group which came together to persuade the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) to exclude Veolia Environmental Services (VES) from its list of bidders for contracts for waste and fuel (processing of waste) in the seven boroughs under its jurisdiction because of that company’s operations in the Israeli Occupied Territories of Palestine which include infrastructure projects built on land stolen from the Palestinians.

VES is a multinational company operating in water management, transport and energy services which holds and bids for large and long-term contracts with local authorities in the UK and across the world. The company was a lead partner in the consortium which constructed the Jerusalem Light Railway, specifically linking illegal settlements in East Jerusalem with West Jerusalem, as well as an illegal settlement in the West Bank. VES will continue to operate the railway for some years. Its operational recruitment campaign discriminates against Palestinians by requiring candidates to speak Hebrew as their mother-tongue. Its subsidiary, Connex, runs two bus services which use roads linking illegal West Bank settlements built on Palestinian land. Another subsidiary, TMM, has been operating the Tovlan landfill site which processes waste from illegal settlements and is located on occupied territory.

VES and its subsidiaries are therefore complicit in Israel’s crimes under international law, specifically they are in violation of the Fourth Geneva convention articles 49 and 53, the Hague Conventions 1897 and 1907, and six UN Security Council Resolutions.

From The Electronic Intifada:

Veolia dumps Israel’s waste in Jordan Valley and wins Israeli army contract

Submitted by Adri Nieuwhof on Tue, 11/22/2011 – 18:09

”Who Profits, a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, has uncovered evidence that Veolia is involved in dumping Israeli waste at the company’s site in Tovlan in the occupied Jordan Valley. The Israeli Civil Administration confirmed this in response to an application by Who Profits under the Freedom of Information Law.

In a newsletter of 21 November 2011, Who Profits writes that, according to the Civil Administration, eight Israeli companies hold permits to transfer waste to Tovlan landfill, including Veolia subsidiaries TMM Integrated Recycling Services and YRAV Sherutei Noy 1985.

The information provided by the Civil Administration shows that waste from recycling factories in Israel and from the Hiriya site (southeast of Tel Aviv) is transported to Tovlan landfill, The recycling factories are located in the areas of HaSharon, Sgul, Haifa and Afula. Who Profits writes:

* The waste transferred to the landfill consists of municipal solid waste, construction waste, sterilized medical waste and electronic waste. The Civil Administration mentioned that there is no permit for bringing hazardous waste into the site.

* Tovlan landfill … is built on stolen Palestinian land. The landfill serves the needs of the Israeli population. Under international law, Israel is prohibited from using occupied land for the sole benefit of its own civilian population [UN Resolution 63/201].

* In mid-August of this year, according to the Who Profits newsletter, Veolia subsdiary YRAV Shrutei Noy 1985 won a contract for waste collection services from the Israeli army based in the Jordan Valley.”

As we researched into the background and history of this company we discovered that not only does VES break international law by its operations in the Occupied Territories, it also has a very poor environmental record with many convictions for breaches in safety all over the world, including the UK. To stop this coming to light, the company changes its name. (The names they use are: Onyx, Vivendi, Leigh Environmental and Norwest Holst Construction Ltd.) It has a poor financial record, suffering heavy losses on the Stock Market, and loss of contracts world-wide.

Safety and environmental record:

In July 2007, 62,000 litres of a highly flammable waste liquid caught fire, emitting a large toxic cloud, causing closure of the M6 motorway: local residents were told to remain in their homes and keep their doors and windows shut.

Vivendi subsidiary, waste management company Leigh Environmental (now called SARP UK) was fined £87,000.

In 1999, Leigh Environmental also featured in the UK’s Environment Agency’s ‘worst ten polluters’ list, resulting in three prosecutions and a fine of £18,000.

In May 1998, a cloud of nitric-dioxide gas leaked from SARP UK’s Killamarsh chemical wastage plant in north Derbyshire. Residents in three separate counties were affected and more than 20,000 people were forced indoors as the 300-foot plume of thick orange gas spread over the area. The Health and Safety Exectutive and the Environment Agency investigated the incident and SARP UK was prosecuted and fined a total of £270,000.

Source for the above information:

Financial record:

VES’s position in the Stock Market has dipped downwards dramatically over the last five years and now remains extremely low.

The following is from

Veolia Environment: A Corporate Profile:

“At one time Vivendi Universal ranked among the 60 largest corporations in the world, by the Fortune 500. Like many large trans-nationals, Vivendi Universal went on an end-of-the-century buying and merger spree, followed by some serious legal, financial and debt problems. Following its buying spree, Vivendi Universal announced a £12.3 billion net loss for the first half of 2002 and began trying to sell parts of its extensive holdings to pay off the debt. As profitability fell and Vivendi’s credit rating was reduced to ‘junk’ status, the company’s board forced the resignation of former CEO, Jean-Marie Messier. Messier was subsequently charged with fraud by the SEC, fined US$1 million and denied a US$25 million severance package. He was later fined by France’s market regulators for inaccurate financial reporting. In December 2003, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission settled a civil fraud action against Vivendi Universal which showed a course of conduct by Vivendi that ‘disguised Vivendi’s cash flow and liquidity problems, improperly adjusted accounting reserves to meet earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization targets, and failed to disclose material financial commitments, all in violation of the anti-fraud provision of the federal securities laws”

Vivendi shareholders subsequently filed a lawsuit against the former managers, demanding that they pay US$54 million towards the US civil fine and legal costs.

However, even if the NLWA were to confine itself to purely commercial considerations it should take into account that Veolia’s involvement in breaches of the Geneva Conventions have embroiled it in litigation and complications which could well become prolonged and serious. This could have a strong potential to seriously hamper VES’s ability to deliver the Authority’s waste management services, should it be awarded this contract, given the contracts’ vast reach and time duration. This scenario entails a real risk of financial loss to taxpayers, not to mention the risk of reputation loss for the Authority. NLWA beware.

Our campaign to stand up for the rights of a beleaguered people in another country has shone a light on the misdemeanors of a global corporation which is prepared, in the interests of financial gain, to also treat people everywhere and the environment we inhabit, with disdain. We are at one with the Palestinians, we share the planet with all peoples, and it is our duty to fight for the health of our planet and for what is just for all who live on it.

When No2VAG was denied a deputation for a third time, three of its members dressed as the Three Wise Monkeys in their demonstration outside Camden Town Hall. Although they certainly were not heard, nor allowed to speak, they were highly visible. From 9am on December 13th No2VAG will be holding a Bin Bag Protest outside the Town Hall (Judd Street, WC1 9JE, near King’s Cross tube station) during the last crucial meeting of the NLWA before final decisions will be made as to which company will be issued contracts for handling our waste management, recycling, and fuel procurement for possibly the next three decades, involving billions in monetary terms. Will we be heard?


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This post was written by Ellen Graubart

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