Oil Company Scrambling after Media Coverage Exposes Environmental Damage Left Behind in Ecuador
Amazon Defense Coalition
14 May 2009 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
Washington, D.C. (May 14, 2009) – Chevron today is taking part in a “Green Technology” roundtable in an apparent attempt to deflect some of the harm caused by its increasingly high profile as a corporate polluter in Ecuador, where it faces a potential $27 billion clean-up tab for dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon, campaigners who monitor the company said today.
The meeting, entitled “Green Technology and the Developing World: Global Energy Challenges, Economic Development and the Deployment of Green Technologies,” is being held just a week after CBS News’ 60 Minutes aired a story highlighting the extensive toxic contamination that the company left behind in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest. Kristen Thorne, a Corporate Advisor on Global Issues and Policy for Chevron, is expected to participate in the roundtable discussion to introduce members of Congress to the company’s so-called “green” energy policies.
Chevron’s participation in the event is little more than an attempt to distract Congress from damaging reports regarding the environmental disaster Chevron left behind in Ecuador, including a report aired on CBS News’ 60 Minutes, according to Kevin Koenig, a corporate campaigner with Amazon Watch, a group that monitors Chevron’s environmental record.
“Chevron’s participation in a ‘green’ energy roundtable discussion is laughable,” said Koenig. “This so-called discussion by one of the world’s worst corporate polluters is just the latest example of the company trying to deceive the public while it uses Ecuador as its trash bin.”
Chevron faces a potential liability of $27 billion in a 15-year class action lawsuit over the environmental damage in Ecuador, which experts have called the "Amazon Chernobyl". The lawsuit, being heard in Ecuador at Chevron’s request, alleges that Texaco (now Chevron) dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into a pristine area of rainforest that was once home to six thriving indigenous groups.
Texaco also gouged more than 900 large, unlined pits out of the jungle floor to store oil sludge left over from exploration and well maintenance that are still leaching toxins into soils and groundwater, according to an independent court expert in the case.
A decision in the case is expected later this year.
Attempting to brand itself as an environmentally conscious company is becoming more difficult for Chevron as the company’s toxic legacy in Ecuador has garnered extensive news coverage by large media outlets in the past few weeks. Reports about the pollution have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and on National Public Radio, among others.
Chevron’s failure to clean-up the pollution in Ecuador led recently to the company being named to two separate “Worst of 2008” lists by corporate and environmental watchdog groups.