A Sordid Tale of Crime and Cover-up By Major U.S. Oil Company
Amazon Defense Coalition
16 February 2012 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
New York, NY – In the Ecuadorian rainforest, far from the eyes of the U.S. news media, sits one of the world's most devastating environmental disasters – one that has killed numerous people and likely will kill thousands more in the coming years from cancer and other oil-related diseases if not properly remediated.
The cruel impact of this disaster has been largely ignored by Chevron, the company that now faces an $18 billion court judgment for causing it. Instead of remediating his company's contamination, Chevron CEO John Watson has squandered hundreds of millions of dollars of shareholder money on 39 different U.S. law firms in an increasingly futile attempt to evade responsibility for the consequences of this man-made catastrophe.
But the sordid tale of Chevron's environmental disaster in Ecuador will be hidden no more.
Representatives of the rainforest communities that won the judgment have posted a video on their web site that reveals in graphic and shocking detail how Chevron intentionally contaminated the rainforest knowing it likely would cause death and destruction to thousands of people. From 1964 to 1990, the oil giant (operating under the Texaco brand) admitted that it deliberately dumped 16-18 billion gallons of toxic waste water into rivers and streams relied on by local inhabitants for their drinking water.
The waste water included benzene, a known human carcinogen, as well as other toxic chemicals and heavy metals, according to evidence before the Ecuador court.
The video, "Chevron's Amazon Chernobyl," also shows how the oil giant in the 1970s and 1980s gouged over 900 unlined waste pits from Ecuador's jungle floor to store the oil and toxic water left after drilling. Today, the contents of these enormous pits continue to flow via Chevron's pipes into the soils and streams of the forest, poisoning residents and their food supply. See here and here for a photo of one of the pits.
The video also reveals how Chevron defrauded Ecuador's court system during an eight-year trial by using bogus laboratory tests to undercount toxins in the soil.
"This video shows in devastating detail that that what Chevron did in Ecuador continues to cause tremendous harm and suffering to thousands of people," said Karen Hinton, the U.S. spokesperson for the Ecuadorian communities.
"These people are invisible to Chevron CEO John Watson as he continues to play games with the law, bringing harm both to his company's shareholders and to the foreign policy interests of the United States in Latin America," said Hinton.
Despite multiple legal setbacks in the courts of Ecuador and the U.S., Chevron and its primary outside counsel Gibson Dunn & Crutcher continue to employ abusive and largely ineffective litigation tactics to evade complying with the law. See here and here.
Meanwhile, the indigenous people of the rainforest are forced to drink water out of poisoned streams. The video shows a little girl using a stick to twirl a gob of oily waste like a ribbon of taffy. In other shots, water glistens with the sickly greens and blues of oil as people swim and wash.
Chevron, the local residents say on the video, told them the oil contained "vitamins and minerals" and was good for them.
In several compelling scenes, the video demonstrates how Chevron ignored pollution standards, manipulated evidence, caused harm to human health, tried to entrap a judge in a bribery scheme, and ultimately proved the legal claims of the rainforest communities with its own evidence.
"This powerful film needs to be seen so the world can fully understand the depths of Chevron's depravity when it comes to environmental protection," said Hinton. "Governments the world over can watch this video to better understand the enormous risks to their citizens of doing business with Chevron."