Dutch energy from unethical coal
Dutch energy companies import their coal from mining companies which violate human rights and cause serious pollution. Research carried out by the current affairs TV programme Netwerk shows that a quarter of the electricity generated in the Netherlands comes from suspect sources.
The programme started its research when the major energy companies refused to name their suppliers.
Nuon, it turns out, buys Colombian coal from US mining company Drummond, which is on trial in Alabama for the murder of 67 Colombians. Essent buys from Cerrejon, a joint venture of BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Anglo American, a company accused of involvement in a massacre in 2004 in which 12 Colombian villagers were shot dead by paramilitaries. Eon Benelux was the only energy producer to admit to doing business with Drummond and Cerrejon.
Netwerk claims that both mining companies fund Colombian paramilitaries which murder trade union leaders and terrorise the local population.
The coal industry in South Africa, another source for Dutch energy companies, is dominated by BHP Billiton of Australia, the Swiss firm Xstrata and US company Anglo American. These are accused of practices which cause widespread public health problems.
Extraction and transport are known to produce carcinogens, fires which break out in disused mines generate toxic smoke and old mines sometimes leak highly acidic water.
In a reaction the umbrella organisation for Dutch energy companies says they are "aware of the dilemma connected with the sources of coal" but insist they are operating in a "socially responsible manner" since the guidelines for coal trading are laid down by the United Nations.
Netwerk will broadcast its findings in two programmes, on Tuesday and Thursday evening.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide