Shell Offers Relocation for all Residents of Diamond Community

Shell Chemical offers relocation package to Norco residents on Diamond Rd., Eads. St., and Sirs Lane. The long fought battle has finally paid off for Norco residents. After years of protests, sickness, and even some deaths ALL of the residents of Norco have been given the opportunity to relocate. The residents of the Old Diamond, Norco, Louisiana community have been plagued with exposure to harmful toxic chemicals spewing from the fence-line Shell Chemical Company. For years the residents of Old Diamond have complained of foul odors, and soaring flares from the nearby plant that shadows their neighborhood. Many of the residents have suffered headaches and upper respiratory problems.

In a reversal from Shell?s former policy, the Diamond Options Program would include the entire Diamond community. Before, Shell had agreed to purchase homes on Washington and Cathy Streets only. However, a Shell official read a letter to residents on Monday, June 10, 2002, "We come to recognize the Diamond neighborhood is truly unique. The community is like an extended family, and we realize now that our previous efforts to create a greenbelt around our facilities may have created difficulties for some families and caregivers in the Diamond neighborhood. While our first preference is to preserve the historic fabric of the Diamond neighborhood, we believe it is important to give residents the choice of determining what is best for their families."The letter was signed by Shell site manager, Wayne Pearce and Norco Motive general manager Armand Abay.
Delwyn Smith, president of Concerned Citizens of Norco said "I am happy because this has really been a hard struggle."
"This is a historic event in the Diamond community," said attorney Monique Harden of Earthjustice, and environmental law firm the represents Norco residents.
The details of the relocation package for Diamond St., East St., and Sirs Lane include:
OPTION 1: Home Improvement Loan
If Diamond residents choose to remain in Norco, they can take advantage of a no-interest home improvement loan of up to $25,000. The loans will be forgiven at a rate of 20 percent per year, so residents who continue to own the property at the end of five years will owe nothing. This home improvement loan program is not transferable.
Here's how the home improvement loan works.
After completing the appraisal process, residents must submit their proposed home improvement project to Shell representatives for approval. Projects must meet these requirements to get approved:
  • They must reasonably improve the property's appraised price and marketability
  • The total of all loans on the property must not exceed 90 percent of the property's improved appraised price
  • At least two contractor bids will be required and projects must be completed by contractors approved by program counselors
  • Contractors will be paid directly by program administrators and will be required to sign a mechanic's lien waiver prior to being compensated.

Residents whose home improvement projects are approved will be eligible for temporary relocation allowances for lodging, meals and miscellaneous expenses not to exceed $2,500 per family.

OPTION 2: Property Purchase
Shell is making an offer to purchase property from residents on Diamond Street, East Street, and Sirs Lane. Those residents living on Washington Street and Cathy Street who rejected the previous Norco Voluntary Property Purchase Program are eligible for Option 2 of Shell's new Diamond Options Program. Regardless of the appraisal findings, in the case of owner-occupied properties, Shell agrees to pay a minimum price of $80,000 for conventional homes and $50,000 for mobile homes.
The minimum purchase price for vacant lots is $17,500 offers to purchase habitable, non-owner-occupied conventional or mobile homes will be made based on appraised value.
After a price has been set, and an offer received, Diamond residents participating in the program will have 60 days to accept or decline the offer. I will not be renewed. Further, residents will be responsible for fixing title problems that could hamper the transfer of the property to Shell. In the case of multiple ownership or multiple structures on one property, Shell will offer one price per property, with the inhabitants deciding how best to divide the proceeds.

Properties must be in neat, safe, and clean condition at closing. Residential owners may also qualify for the following additional program features:
  • Professional service allowance of $500, for consultation with financial and other experts
  • Moving allowance of $5,000
  • Miscellaneous expenses allowance of $15,000
  • Clear site bonus between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on property characteristics
  • An equity advance, based on need and fulfilling eligibility requirements.

What if I am a Landlord or a Renter?
If you're a landlord renting properties in the Diamond subdivision, you are not eligible to receive the minimum prices outlined above. However, in addition to the appraised price, Shell is offering a rent disruption allowance to landlords at the rate of $1,000 per unit.
If you are renting a conventional home in the Diamond Options Program area, you are eligible to receive a lump-sum $4,000 moving allowance. If you are the owner of a mobile home and are renting a home site in Diamond, you will be eligible to receive a $7,500 relocation allowance.

What is Shell doing to improve the quality of Life in Norco?
Shell is committed to making Norco a better place to live and work. That?s why Shell and Motiva together have a number of projects approved that will significantly improve operational performance and reduce noise, odor, and flaring. A proposed seven-year program of nearly $200 million in capital improvement projects is pending engineering review and final approval. The companies are also investing nearly $10 million in programs to enhance educational and job opportunities for all Norco residents. These programs will complement and enhance the Shell and Motiva Good Neighbor Initiative – a program designed to improve environmental performance, assess community health and safety, and enhance the quality of life for all Norco residents.
Concerned Citizens of Norco
http://www.corpwatch.org/action/PAA.jsp?articleid=953

Official Press Release
http://www.refineryreform.org/PR_061102.html