Chevron in Ecuador

The archive of the Clean Up Ecuador campaign website

Court Filing: Chevron’s Own Audits Prove Company Lied About Massive Pollution in Ecuador

Evidence of Chevron's "Stunning Hypocrisy" and Lies to U.S. Federal Courts

Amazon Defense Coalition

Amazon Defense Coalition
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109

New York, NY – A U.S. Federal Court has been presented with two separate audits conducted at Chevron's request that show "clear and convincing evidence" that the oil giant knowingly dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste directly into the Amazon and subsequently lied to cover it up, according to a legal brief by the 30,000 Ecuadorian rainforest residents suing the company for the illegal dumping.

The two separate audits, commissioned by Chevron's predecessor company Texaco as it was wrapping up operations in Ecuador from 1990-92, found that the oil contamination "require[d] remediation at all production facilities." The audits also demonstrate deliberate contamination by Texaco, noting that the company failed to protect surface water quality and intentionally dumped untreated toxic waste directly into the streams and rivers of the jungle.

The findings of the audits – presented for the first time in a U.S. federal court as part of a battle over various discovery requests related to the Ecuador litigation – stand in stark contrast to Chevron's numerous sworn statements that there is "no evidence that Chevron is responsible for any environmental damage" in Ecuador, made in multiple filings in recent weeks in several different federal courts.

Chevron's public denials of damage to the region given the extraordinary findings in its audits are "shocking and cynical," according to Ilann Maazel, an attorney for the Amazon residents. "These audits definitively prove that Chevron is guilty of contaminating Ecuador's rainforest and that the company is now shamelessly lying about that undisputed fact to U.S. courts," he said.

"It is incredible that Chevron lawyers make sworn statements that there is no damage in the region even while their own audits unequivocally state the exact opposite," said Maazel. "Chevron has consistently and intentionally made such false statements to federal judges in a cynical attempt to hide the extent of the contamination caused by its operations."

Some of the shocking findings of the audits, which were conducted by two Chevron sub-contractors and paid for by the company, are:

  • "All twenty-two production stations are currently, or have at some time, discharged oily produced water to the environment and flared excess gas. The stations have produced a total of approximately 1.4 billion barrels of oil, 250 million cubic feet of gas and 375 million barrels of produced water during the period 1964 to 1990."
  • "The audit identified hydrocarbon contamination requiring remediation at all production facilities and a majority of the drill sites."
  • "Produced water (which contains carcinogens and toxic heavy metals) is being discharged to the environment in all cases."
  • "Produced waste is then passed through a series of open, unlined pits. The remaining oil emulsion and produced water is discharged into a local creek or river or in some instances directly into the jungle...Produced water has historically not been tested prior to disposal..."
  • "Contamination of soil and water was observed at well sites, production stations and along roadways, flowlines and secondary pipelines."
  • "Workover, completion wastes, salt solutions and oil/water emulsions have historically been disposed of into well site pits. ... Little maintenance has reportedly been done on any of the pits at the well sites."
  • "[Texaco's] operation included the intentional burning of crude oil from spills and contained in pits. This operation usually created large amounts of black smoke and soot that can potentially impair the environment and human health."

Both audits were relied upon by a court-ordered damages assessment that found that Chevron could be responsible for up to $27.3 billion in environmental damages and remediation costs. Chevron's lawyers have called the report "scientifically bankrupt" but thus far have refused to comment on their own audits, which were conducted in the early 1990s as the company was winding down its operations in Ecuador.

The audits were conducted by HBT Agra and Fugro McClelland, two Chevron sub-contractors. They are part of the evidence in the Ecuador trial.

Chevron, through its predecessor company Texaco, operated in Ecuador from 1964-1990. The lawsuit, originally filed by 30,000 Ecuadorians in New York in 1993, was transferred to Ecuador at Chevron's request. Since the trial began in Ecuador, more than 64,000 scientific sampling results and a 200,000-page trial record, has created a mountain of evidence demonstrating Chevron's responsibility for the environmental devastation in the region, said Maazel.