Greenpeace activists storm refinery

By Farhana Ismail

On the final day of the World Summit, Greenpeace activists did what governments, they say, failed to do.

They stormed the Sapref refinery in Prospecton, gaining access to a bridge that crosses the Umlaas Canal to drop an anti-pollution banner. Sapref refinery is regarded as a national key point area and has tight security - but not on Wednesday.

The banner, which read "Clean Energy Now" was, however, confiscated by Sapref security personnel, but this did not deter the five activists - two women among them who scaled a 30-metre bridge which spans oil, gas and petrol pipelines.

At the time the climbers gained access the area was unmanned.

All the commotion was played out in front of local and international media. Onlookers, including residents and motorists sounded their car hooters to show support while Greenpeace activists on the ground, their lawyers and other local environmental activists waited.

Greenpeace spokesperson Zeina Alhaj said: "The Earth summit has failed to take action against dirty policies which are fuelling climate change. We thought there would be change but once again governments are caving in and allowing company profits to dictate. What we are doing in Durban today is what governments have failed to do - sending a loud message that the refineries must clean up their act."

When the police were initially summoned, Superintendent Vengtas Naidoo said the climbers were not a threat, it was a peaceful protest and the refinery was not placed at risk.

Sapref spokeswoman Margaret Rowe said the company understood the activists' mission was peaceful and aimed at obtaining publicity.

Early this week 12 Greenpeace activists were fined R1 000 each for trespassing when they stormed the Koeberg plant in Cape Town and draped their anti-pollution banner.

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