Toxic Ecuador: Update

4 07 2009
From: The Economist, 2009

From: The Economist, 2009

Some more details about the lawsuit taking place between Ecuadorian citizens and Chevron (see my other post for more details):

As we already know, Texaco was operating in Ecuador from the 1960’s up until 1992. From 1977 to 1992, they were in partnership with Petroecuador, a state-owned oil company. After this time, Petroecuador took full ownership of the operation. The current lawsuit began in 1993, when lawyers representing 30, 000 Ecuadorians from the area, brought the case to a New York arguing that Texaco dumped toxic oil waste in hundreds of pits and failed to clean up after pulling out of the operation. These pits were said to have caused health problems among the residents of the area, as well as damage to the jungle. Additionaly, they argued that Texaco should compensate those residents for their displacement due to the conditions created by oil waste. U.S. courts rejected the claims 3 times saying that they had no jurisdiction over the issue. Texaco eventually agreed to clean up their share of the site, likely for publicity reasons. This resulted in $40 million being spent on the clean-up of 161 pits. The government signed off on this clean-up thereby releasing Texaco from any further liability. Petroecuador never cleaned up it’s share of the pits.

Now the $27.3 billion lawsuit has been relaunched against Chevron, who bought out Texaco in 2001. The lawsuit has been relaunched for a number of different reasons. Mainly, a new Environmental Law has been passed in Ecuador which should give the plaintiffs more leverage against Chevron even though the law doesn’t deal with past actions. New evidence has come to the fore which has lead to charges of fraud against 7 senior officials who signed the agreement releasing Texaco of liability, as well as two of Chevron’s Ecuadorian Lawyers. Also, we know that the Ecuadorian court objected to the signed agreement on the basis that Texaco should have cleaned up all the pits because it was the actual operator of the drilling operation and therefore had control over how the waste was disposed of.

Now here we are still wondering where Petroecuador really stands in this. Were they continuing to pollute between 1993 and now? Was it because of Petroecuador that Texaco was given the go ahead, or even the orders to pollute this way? Was such carelessness with regard to clean-up giving Petroecuador a load of extra cash and therefore a reason to promote this kind of behavior? Are the plaintiffs afraid to go after them because they are a government-run company?

From:, 2009

From:, 2009

Since 2006, Petroecuador has reported 117 oil spills in the Ecuadorian Amazon. They aren’t even the only ones though, Canadian company EnCana has been there too, spilling oil. In a 2003 documentary calling Between Midnight and the Rooster’s Crow, a citizen staging a peacepul protest against such oil giants is shot by Ecuadorian officials. These officials are then rushed off the scene by EnCana. Many companies are responsible for a lot of environmental damage in Ecuador. The biggest problem I see here, is who else but the Ecuadorian government, who since 2003, the time of the construction of their largest pipeline, have been trying to get foreign oil companies out of the country in order to run the show themselves. Here though, is another problem. They don’t have enough money themselves to run the whole show.

So..what seems to be happening? The plaintiffs are going after the only company they can, and by the looks of it, the only company that has a chance of cleaning up the mess. Is it fair, probably not. Does it need to be done? This is questionable, as it seems likely that pollution by Petroecuador will continue within the country even after Chevron cleans up the mess, that is IF Chevron cleans it up. And with 50 percent of Ecuador’s national budget being funded by oil production, it doesn’t look like change will come until the oil is gone and there is no rainforest left to exploit.

The Economist article:

The San Fransisco Chronicle Article:

And here:

all the updates at: 




One response

27 07 2009
Sarah Palin Doesn’t Understand Cap-and-Trade « We Are Informed

[…] operation would have on the wider surrounding environment. Take a look at what Texaco did to the Amazon in Ecuador. Of course, Alaska is not the sole source of American energy. Many states have abundant coal, whose […]

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