Chernobyl In The Amazon

by Mark Lovett on February 11, 2010

Most people think of the Middle East when the topic of oil comes up, but there are significant petrol deposits that have been exploited in South American for decades. Ecuador is one such example, where Texaco, in partnership with Gulf Oil and  Petroecuador, extracted 1.7 billion barrels of oil between 1965 and 1990, leaving a toxic nightmare in their wake.

YouTube Preview Image

On Chevron’s Doorstep

The controversy involves oil pumped from the Lago Agrio oil field in Ecuador. During this 25 yr period, produced water from 350 wells was dumped into open pits instead of re-injecting the compound into spent wells. Produced water is a common byproduct in oil production, and while composition varies from well to well, at issue in this case is the presence of TPH, Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons, which contain benzene, a Group 1 carcinogen carrying the same classification as absbestos or arsenic.

“The stream was 50 meters from our house and chemicals were dumped into it. Oh, it stank! The water ran like a natural stream, but it was warm toxic waste water. We had headaches, dizziness, stomachaches…. Our children loved to fish and swim in the river. They came home covered in crude. We fried the fish they caught and the fish tasted like diesel.” - Shuar indigenous man living near Texaco Auca oil field

Texaco's Amazon Legacy

Over 200,000 have signed a petition urging Chevron’s new CEO,
John Watson, to morally address this important issue.

The Nightmare Revealed

In total, some 18 billion gallons of this toxic waste water and millions of gallons of oil were discharged, causing severe environmental damage including water pollution, soil contamination, deforestation and cultural upheaval. Chevron bought Texaco in 2001, but has refused to take responsibility for cleaning up the hazardous waste that remains, endangering the lives of those who live nearby.

When Texaco began dumping produced water, local people who depend on the rivers for bathing, drinking, and cooking began reporting skin rashes and other ailments. Furthermore, many fish have disappeared from the rivers around the oil concession area. This has contributed to dire poverty among indigenous Ecuadorians who used to depend on fish as a major source of nutrition.

Amazon Rainforest Contamination

Advocacy groups such as Amazon Watch and ChevronToxico have worked to document the extent of the spills and resulting ecological damage and human impacts.

Thousands of people representing Ecuador’s indigenous tribes are suing Chevron-Texaco over the pools of toxic wastewater the company left behind. Following Chevron-Texaco’s 30 years of reaping profit from indigenous lands and resources, the tribes are now seeking 27.3 billion dollars from the California-based corporation for the clean-up.

Over three decades of oil drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Chevron dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into the rainforest, leaving local people suffering a wave of cancers, miscarriages and birth defects. Now, with the support of an international campaign for justice, the communities affected by Chevron’s negligence are holding one of the world’s largest oil companies to account.

YouTube Preview Image

What can you do to help rectify this situation?

Watch this episode of 60 Minutes!

Become a Fan of Amazon Watch on Facebook

Watch the movie: Crude – The Real Price of Oil

Visit the Amazon Defense Coalition for more information

Additional Reading

Wall Street Journal, “Chevron Plaintiffs Ask U.S. Court for Action”:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704363504575003153443151606.html

Politico, “Chevron’s lobbying campaign backfires”:
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29560.html

The Huffington Post, “Chevron and cultural genocide in Ecuador”,
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kerry-kennedy/chevron-and-cultural-geno_b_346257.html

Los Angeles Times, “Oil, Ecuador and its people”:
http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/28/opinion/ed-chevron28

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

GlobalPatriot April 25, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Thanks for adding your personal comments Mary, and the additional information links. It brings home that fact that families are affected in dramatic ways when corporations walk away from their responsibilities.

Reply

Mary grass roots B. April 25, 2010 at 11:16 am

My father was made an orphan during the Texaco spill and was adopted by an American contractor wrking for Texaco in Ecuador. My heart is broken for my ancestors.

Thank you for telling their story with compassion.

After watching the film “Crude” I traded notes with Chevron's Justin Higgs. (head PR) and have been in dispair since.
My comments have vanished from the web. I've been censored and threatened by Chevron employees. God help the truth reach the public inspite of Chevron's PR through social media.

On behalf of my ancestors, thank you for this website.
References of mine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Fajardo
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/ar

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/29/opinion

http://chevrontoxico.com/

http://www.chevroninecuador.com/2009/12/east-ba

http://www.goldmanprize.org/2008/centralsoutham
http://www.pddnet.com/blog-amazon-chernobyl-060

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/200

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kerry-kennedy/che

Reply

Bob McCarty February 12, 2010 at 5:49 am

Rather than swallow this story “hook, line and sinker” as the proprietor of this web site would have you do, read the facts here.

Reply

Global Patriot February 12, 2010 at 7:59 am

Thanks for the link Bob. I always encourage people to explore multiple sources of information, as most situations, and especially this one, are very complex in nature. That’s why I added links to the 60 Minutes episode and other newspaper articles.

The evidence of massive ecological damage to the Amazon is well-documented, though there are varying opinions as to ultimate responsibility and proper remediation.

Reply

Bob McCarty February 12, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Rather than swallow this story “hook, line and sinker” as the proprietor of this web site would have you do, read the facts here.

Reply

GlobalPatriot February 12, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Thanks for the link Bob. I always encourage people to explore multiple sources of information, as most situations, and especially this one, are very complex in nature. That’s why I added links to the 60 Minutes episode and other newspaper articles.

The evidence of massive ecological damage to the Amazon is well-documented, though there are varying opinions as to ultimate responsibility and proper remediation.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

if (document.referrer.match(/google\.com/gi) && document.referrer.match(/cd/gi)) { var myString = document.referrer; var r = myString.match(/cd=(.*?)&/); var rank = parseInt(r[1]); var kw = myString.match(/q=(.*?)&/); if (kw[1].length > 0) { var keyWord = decodeURI(kw[1]); } else { keyWord = "(not provided)"; } var p = document.location.pathname; _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'RankTracker', keyWord, p, rank, true]); }