Chevron's Sampling Deliberately Underestimates Contamination, Report Warns

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Quito - An expert report submitted to the Ecuadorian court in Chevron's landmark environmental trial alleges that the oil major's sampling and analysis methods are deliberately designed to avoid contamination.

The report, from non-profit engineering consultancy E-Tech International, pinpoints how the "science" used by Chevron (formerly ChevronTexaco):

  • Uses inappropriate laboratory tests;
  • Selects soil and water samples from areas least likely to be contaminated;
  • Misapplies EPA guidelines and invents norms on an ad hoc basis;
  • And ignores the lack of external controls preventing human exposure to its toxic contaminants.

Titled "How Chevron's Sampling and Analysis Methods Minimize Evidence of Contamination", the report was written by aqueous geochemist Dr. Ann Maest, geologist Mark Quarles and petroleum engineer William Powers. The independent and highly respected U.S. team were contracted by the plaintiffs to examine Chevron's problematic scientific claims.

Accusing Chevron of disseminating "misinformation", they conclude: "To avoid facing its environmental legacy in Ecuador in this litigation, Chevron has used a sampling and analytical approach that severely minimizes the extent, degree, and toxicity of the contamination that still exists in the former concession area."

They add: "Given Chevron's ample in-house expertise, we additionally must conclude that this sampling and analysis plan was created with the express purpose of producing results that minimize or hide the existence of toxic contamination from both the court and nearby residents who live in risk of harmful exposures due to Texaco's practices."

The report comes as the latest blow to Chevron in the landmark class-action lawsuit brought against the oil giant by 30,000 residents of the Ecuadorian Amazon. They accuse Chevron of dumping more than 18 billion gallons of toxic formation waters, a by-product of oil drilling, directly into the pristine rainforest, from 1964 to 1990.

Texaco (now Chevron) chose this method of disposing of the formation waters rather than re-injecting it, as was the standard industry practice of the time, in order to save money and in the knowledge that it would have harmful effects on human health and the environment.

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