Donald Moncayo, Santa Cruz Community Organizer of the Amazon Defense Coalition, displays and discusses this intensely contaminated swath of land in the village of Chirapa, the very first of Chevron-Teaxco's 800-plus unlined waste pits in northern Ecuador. (Photo courtesy of NewMy51/Flickr)

Chevron Claims its Toxic Waste Dump in Ecuador’s Amazon Did Not Harm Tribes

ICTMN Staff
2/13/11

Chevron dumped more than 16 billion gallons of oil and toxic waste into the waters of many tribes in Ecuador's Amazon during its operation of an oil concession the size of Rhode Island in the area from 1964 to 1990, reported Amazon Watch.

Last week, the oil company filed a countersuit against Ecuador's pollution lawyers with the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, reported the Associated Press.

In its 292-page document--its last ditch effort in an 18-year-old court battle, Chevron denies its massive release of chemical-riddled "water of formation" into the Amazonian rivers and streams that indigenous groups rely on caused any severe damages, reported Amazon Watch.

"The plaintiffs have not established that there was any negligence" on the part of Chevron, the document states, according to Amazon Watch. "The plaintiffs have not proven the existence of the supposed damages ... that they allege in their lawsuit."

According to Ecuador's pollution plaintiffs, who submitted the first part of their lawsuit on January 18, there is "irrefutable evidence of contamination" at each of Chevron's inspected 45 well and production sites. Numerous toxic chemicals with known carcinogens infest the waters, namely: barium, benzene, cadmium, chromium, copper, etheylbenzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, vanadium, xylene, and zinc.

Chevron did not publish its final defense, called the "alegato" in Ecuador, online, according to Amazon Watch. "Chevron is embarrassed to promote a document that is so clearly misleading," said Karen Hinton, a spokesperson for the plaintiffs. "Chevron's final argument makes a mockery out of the evidence at trial and is so deceptive that not even Chevron wants people to read it."

Chevron's lead scientific expert in the Ecuador trial, John Conner, testified under oath in U.S. court that the oil giant never found its activities harmed any individuals. The lawyer has defended Chevron on numerous lawsuits for most of two decades, reaping at least $5 million for his efforts to allegedly belittle the suffering of 30,000 Ecuadorians from environmental damage from the company's oil exploration and extraction, reported Amazon Watch.

Chevron also hides behind Texaco Inc., which became a subsidiary of Chevron in 2001. The company argues a 1998 agreement that "Texaco signed with Ecuador after a $40 million cleanup absolves it of any further liability," reported the AP.

Hinton calls Chevron's defenses and countersuit an act of "corporate bullying," reported the AP.

"Chevron's final argument is scientifically and morally bankrupt," Hinton told Amazon Watch. "It is just astonishing that a public company continues to bury its responsibility for causing a flagrant and ongoing human rights violation that is putting thousands of lives at risk."

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