Chevron in Ecuador

The archive of the Clean Up Ecuador campaign website

Texaco Hid Contamination at Shushufindi

Amazon Defense Coalition

Amazon Defense Coalition
23 September 2005 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109

The month of September concluded with the judicial inspection of the central production station of Shushufindi, located a few kilometers from the municipality of Shushufindi in the province of Sucumbios.

Chevron requested this inspection to verify the conditions in which Petroproducción ran the largest reception plant for oil production in the entire Amazon. Adolfo Callejas, attorney for the US transnational attempted to deny Pablo Fajardo, the plaintiffs' lawyer, a visit to the area in order to avoid the Judge's journey to the most severely contaminated zone left by Texaco. The polluted site comprises approximately 22,948 square meters, more than two hectares, of affected soils. During the period of Chevron's operations, because no ventilation and oxidation pools existed, all the formation waters were dumped freely around the area, which is surrounded by a swamp.

The repeated opposition of Callejas to Fajardo's visit to the affected zones, and the taking of samples for analysis, was rejected by Judge Efrain Novillo who decided to proceed with the visit because the object of the judicial process against ChevronTexaco, the judge said, is "the determination of whether or not the existence of environmental contamination caused by the company exists in all the sites that they are inspecting. Further, the Civil Procudures Code, in Article 122, leaves it up to the Judge to investigate the truth on his own account, by which I decide that the taking of samples should proceed."

Following the decision of the judge, during the visit to the petroleum installation, constructed and operated by Texaco for more than 20 years, the existence was confirmed of "pools" covered with soil in order to hide the noxious, toxic waste. In these sites, the independent forensic experts should take soil and water samples to analyze them and present them to the court the forensic evidence which will confirm the pollution left by Texaco during its operation in the producing station of Shushufindi Central.

Texaco's greatest fear is illustrated by the company's attempt to impede the official visits to the contaminated sites. The choice of sites to be visited was influenced by the Remedial Action Plan for the contaminated zones, including the covered "pools," which were not even included in the supposed remediation, nor were they covered by the plan agreed with the Ecuadorean government in 1995.

Texaco constantly brings up the Contract of Liberation of Responsibilities between Texaco, the Ecuadorian State and Petroecuador as its main defense, claiming that it met the percentage of remediation work that supposedly fell to them in proportion to their participation in the Consortium Cepe-Texaco. "If we look at the documents that served as the base of the Plan of Remedial Action, we find that the zones visited by you, Your Honor, were not included. Why were those sites hidden? Did Texaco then comply or not with the percentage that it mentions?" Fajardo asked the court. "Now we know that the zones and their waste pools, supposedly remediated by Texaco, were simply covered up, with absolutely no efforts to treatment the toxic substances inside."