Groups Demand Company Follow Court Orders and Clean up Toxic Mess in Ecuador
Amazon Watch, RAN
3 December 2011 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
Thousand Oaks, CA – Today Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Amazon Watch challenged Chevron Chairman and CEO John S. Watson with a high-flying demand that he clean up his company's toxic mess in the Ecuadorian Amazon. An airplane with a banner will circle overhead for three hours on both days of the Chevron World Challenge golf tournament, calling on the executive to remediate the environmental disaster in Ecuador after three decades of contaminating the country's rainforest in reckless pursuit of profit.
RAN and Amazon Watch sponsored this message to Chevron, demanding that the company abide by the $18 billion judgment resulting from one of the world's largest oil-related disasters in history. In a historic ruling this fall, a group of Ecuadorian indigenous and farming communities prevailed over Chevron in both U.S. and Ecuadorian courts in their legal efforts to hold the company accountable for human rights violations and the ongoing environmental crisis it caused in Ecuador. CEO Watson and other Chevron executives routinely defy court orders by stating publically that they will never pay.
"Chevron has spent the last 18 years waging unprecedented public relations and legal campaigns to avoid dealing with the environmental and public health catastrophe it left in the Amazon rainforest," said Ginger Cassady, Director of RAN's Change Chevron campaign. "Today we're challenging Chevron to clean more than their public image and repair the toxic legacy left in Ecuador."
Today's banner action comes on the heels of damning statements from another group of Latin Americans: Government and regulatory officials in Brazil. After Chevron spilled an estimated 110,000 gallons of pure crude into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the state of Rio, Brazilian officials were outraged by Chevron executives' response. At first Chevron lied about the origin of the spill, then they low-balled the number of barrels spilled into the ocean and told regulators the damage was contained when it wasn't. Brazilian officials are threatening fines up to $145 million, as well as possible prison terms, for what they describe as Chevron's "environmental crimes."
"From Ecuador to Brazil, Chevron has cemented its position in South America as an ambassador of arrogance and environmental racism," said Mitch Anderson, Corporate Campaigns Director at Amazon Watch. "This is a company that consistently flouts the rule of law with tremendous hubris. As we know from the ancient Greeks, hubris comes with an awful price."
The Brazil spill is the most recent embarrassment for Watson during his tenure as Chevron's chief executive. The Ecuador disaster has generated negative publicity for 18 years and cost Chevron hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees.
Both Chevron and the Ecuadorians have appealed the $18 billion judgment in Ecuador. The Ecuadorians are arguing for a higher damage award. If the judgment is upheld by the country's appeals court, the Ecuadorians will prepare to seize Chevron's assets in other countries, possibly in Latin America, as the company no longer owns assets in Ecuador.