Norco activist addresses global warming conference

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / November 29, 2000

NORCO – Margie Richard, president of Concerned Citizens of Norco, said she believes her message was well-received at recent international conference on global warming in Holland.

The International Climate Justice conference, held in conjunction with meetings with Royal Dutch Shell officials, included Richard as a featured speaker.

“I’ve got to say that God just did it,” she commented of the trip.

The meetings were arranged to allow Richard to bring her concerns about the Diamond community adjoining Shell Chemical in Norco to reach ears on an international level.

“There they are in wonderland, where it’s fresh and clean,” she said, adding the country is “flat, beautiful, with no hustle and bustle, with quiet, working people.””They need to know how polluted our neighborhood is, how the air in Diamond makes it hard to breathe, makes you feel sick,” she said of her reason for speaking.

Her trailer home – the front door is 17 feet from Shell Chemical’s fence line, across Washington Street – literally places her on the front line against Shell’s environmental record.

“Everybody tries to say it’s racism, but it’s just people,” Richard said. “If wedon’t put a face to it, we can’t make a change.”She even brought a bag of Norco air, captured and brought to the conference, and offered Royal Dutch Shell officials to take a sniff of what is being left on their neighbors.

Her visit included a conversation with Robert Kleiburg, a climate change analyst with Shell International Ltd. of London. “He was very nice andreceived me very intelligently,” Richard recalled.

Richard departed on Nov. 17 and returned on Nov. 22. “I’m told there will besome response,” she said, adding she is waiting for visitors from around the world to check the Norco situation.

Richard returned just in time to prepare her family’s Thanksgiving holiday and is still recovering from the journey.

“For me it was worth it,” she said. “Nobody can tell the storylike we who livehere.”Yet, she said, she is still not happy with the progress made so far with Shell.

“We’re not where we were, but we’re not where we should be,” Richard said.

Shell recently embarked on a “Good Neighbor Initiative” in order to highlight the company’s positive contributions to the community, coupled with an effort to relocate the Diamond residents into comparable homes.

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