18 November 2013
Quito, Ecuador – A U.S. court authorized Ecuador to use, within the international arbitration known as Chevron III, thousands of documents which the oil company intended to keep reserved, official sources said today.
According to a Monday press release from the Attorney General's Office, the decision was made by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado, on Nov. 13, despite company opposition.
The documents are in the possession of Bjorn Bjorkman, a Chevron environmental expert, and could show that the company attempted to minimize and conceal the pollution caused by its subsidiary Texaco in the Ecuadorian Amazon, the press release said.
The court rejected the argument that the company was protected by the so-called attorney work-product privilege.
After a 2011 court ruling against Chevron by a court in the province of Sucumbios, the U.S. oil company took the case to the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague, in an attempt to place the responsibility for environmental and human damages on Ecuador's state oil company, Petroecuador.
Last week, Ecuador's National Court upheld the provincial court ruling, but reduced to $9.5 billion the amount of compensation that Chevron would have to pay to the 30,000 victims.
The oil company, however, also filed a lawsuit against the plaintiffs in a New York court, accusing Ecuador of corruption.
Data provided by local authorities claim that between 1964 and 1992, Texaco dumped 16.8 million gallons of oil into the ecosystem and another 18.5 billion gallons of toxic water into soil and rivers, and that it burned 235 billion cubic feet of gas.
After the legal and media onslaught of the company against Ecuador, President Rafael Correa's administration launched a campaign in September called the Dirty Hand of Chevron, in an attempt to show the world the environmental and human damage caused in the Amazon.