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Turning Up the Heat on Veolia

The most successful international BDS campaign to date has targeted the enormous French multinational, with operations in 28 countries.  In 2005, “Derail Veolia” focused on the company’s contract to build a light rail linking Jerusalem with neighboring settlements.  It resulted in the loss of several profitable contracts in Europe and Australia and forced Veolia in 2010 to sell its shares in the Jerusalem light rail venture over a five-year period.  

Boycott Veolia Campaign
Veolia protest at London's Natural History Museum, October 2010

The company continues to profit from Israel’s occupation by operating three “Jewish only” bus services to settlements and managing the Tovian land fill in the occupied Jordan Valley – the focus of a “Dump Veolia” international campaign.

Although Veolia has been identified as a company targeted for divestment by some US bodies, including the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church’s Divestment Task Force and Jewish Voice for Peace in the TIAA-CREF campaign, the highly visible grassroots organizing effort that has cost Veolia over $7 billion in contracts world-wide is only beginning to take root in North America, where Veolia is the largest private provider of multiple modes of transportation and has massive operations in water and waste management.

Massachusetts is rich in Veolia targets. The company, which has spearheaded water and waste privatization efforts, had a scandal-ridden record in Rockland and lost contracts in Lynn and Lee.

Its transportation division has a 60 percent stake in the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail (MBCR) company and runs the state’s commuter rail service, with its contract due to expire in 2013.   After learning of the fraudulent practices in which MBCR had engaged (“Commuter rail won bonuses as riders fumed,” Boston Sunday Globe, May 15, 2011)  Boston BDS activists have been educating the public about Veolia’s participation in Israeli Apartheid and organizing against the renewal of its contract to run the Massachusetts commuter rail system.