Chevron in Ecuador

The archive of the Clean Up Ecuador campaign website

Video Reveals Chevron's Fraudulent Oil Cleanup, Evidence Tampering & Lies to U.S. Judges

Released For First Time on Public Website

Amazon Defense Coalition

Amazon Defense Coalition
12 November 2010 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109

Quito, Ecuador – New graphic videos showing Chevron's misconduct and environmental contamination in Ecuador were released today for the first time on a public website, representatives of the indigenous groups suing the company announced.

"These are the stunning videos that Chevron does not want courts to see," said Karen Hinton, a spokeswoman for the communities who are suing the oil giant for what experts believe is the earth's largest oil-related disaster.

The videos, taken from the documentary film CRUDE, show one American technical expert commenting after touring the region and seeing the extent of Chevron's pollution in Ecuador: "There is nothing in the United States that is anything like this."

Other videos show how Chevron uses "junk science" and deceptive sampling practices to hide evidence of extensive contamination at its 378 former well sites and production facilities in Ecuador, which span an area the size of Rhode Island, said Hinton.

The videos reveal detailed interviews and substantive discussions about how Chevron intentionally dumped billions of gallons of toxic water and oil into the rainforest, faked a cleanup to avoid huge costs, covered up the phony remediation by lying about it in both U.S. and Ecuadorian courts and tampered with evidence by manipulating contamination tests.

The outtakes are videotapes that did not make the final editing cut for the film CRUDE, which documents part of the 17-year legal battle of the indigenous and farmer communities of the Amazon to hold Chevron accountable.

"These are the videos that Chevron has hidden from U.S. judges to avoid being held accountable for its human rights abuses in the rainforest," said Pablo Fajardo, the lead attorney for the Ecuadorians. "They also show Chevron's attempt to deceive its own shareholders about the extent to which it faces liability in Ecuador."

In a last-ditch effort to evade a judgment in Ecuador, which is expected within months after a 17-year legal battle, Chevron has filed discovery lawsuits in numerous U.S. federal courts. Chevron has presented highly edited and misleading examples of the outtakes to these courts to gain permission to depose U.S.-based experts and lawyers working with the Amazonian communities, said Hinton.

Below is a summary of the outtakes that Chevron does not want you to see. They can be viewed here.

Video One:
"They took (samples)...on the outskirts, where they were certain to not find any contamination."

In this outtake, environmental experts and lawyers discuss how Chevron fabricated evidence by taking samples away from contaminated areas and using different methods to lower levels of toxins. Also read what Chevron operative Diego Borja had to say about evidence tampering. The outtakes detail Chevron's fraudulent cleanup to obtain a liability release from government claims. Instead of cleaning and lining oil pits filled with toxic sludge for decades, one expert, Olga Lucia Gómez, said Chevron, "came in, they capped it off, took something out, poured water, planted trees and that was the remediation."

Video Two:
"Your ground water is contaminated. Chevron is wrong. There's discharges that go right into the water ways."

Richard Kamp, a U.S. expert for the Ecuadorians, explains how he will collect and evaluate the contamination, points out the extent of the ground water contamination and laments that the destruction is so extensive the rainforest cannot ever be completely cleaned. Chevron misled U.S. courts about other Kamp comments, taking them out of context. Kamp said, "I think that you're asking whether it's possible to cleanup the mess? The real answer is 'no, it's not possible to clean up the whole mess.' The question is what extent of the mess are you going to clean up?"

Video Three:
"I have seen some nasty sites in the U.S. .... There is nowhere in the U.S. that's anything like's so widespread."

After a day of viewing oil pits, experts discuss what they saw: residents trying unsuccessfully to filter their drinking water to make it safe; others building small lakes to raise fish for sale but without knowing whether the water is contaminated or not; oil pits that Texaco said they did not clean because local people were using contaminated water from the pits. One of the experts said,

"I have seen some nasty sites in my day in the U.S. And so, what I saw today was, individually, was not necessarily any different than what I've seen in the U.S. However, we were – we were from Sacha Norte to Sacha Sur....And it's so widespread, it is beyond imagination. There is nothing – there is nowhere in the U.S. that's anything like this."

Video Four:
Digging Out Toxic Water & Oil Underneath Vegetation Near Home Of Elderly Man

CRUDE's cameras documented the extensive contamination found at the Shushufindi 38 well site in an oil pit, in a drinking water well and on the property owned by Manuel Salinas, an elderly man whom the government of Ecuador recently re-located. The opening scene shows a pipeline running through heavy vegetation. Chevron has accused the plaintiffs of pouring oil into the ground the night before testing for contamination, but here you see undisturbed ground being dug that reveals toxic water and oil. CBS' 60 Minutes featured Shushufindi 38. Chevron also lied to reporters about the well site's contamination.

Video Five:
"(Chevron) is playing tricks in order to diminish, to minimize, to dilute the evidence of contamination."

A plaintiff's engineer provides specific details on Chevron's evidence tampering at the contamination sites. In addition to taking samples away from the contamination, the engineer explains another Chevron "trick" to manipulate the toxic levels: "They're going to take a compound sample. That means that they're going to take the sample at...three (3) meters deep....let's suppose that there's, for example, one (1) meter of contamination. But upon mixing the three (3) meters... they're going to end up diluting the evidence, and the evidence is going to seem like it has a little contamination, but just a tiny bit."

Video Six:
Chevron Gives Courts Inaccurate Translation As "Smoking Gun" Evidence Of Fraud

By the time the plaintiffs acquired this seven-hour outtake and had it properly translated, Chevron had circulated an inaccurate translation, presented as "smoking gun" evidence of fraud, to several judges ruling on discovery lawsuits, journalists and legal analysts. The inaccurate remark pertained to Richard Cabrera, the court-appointed expert who estimated remediation damages at $27 billion in a contamination report. Chevron has sought to discredit Cabrera's work, charging the plaintiffs "ghostwrote" the report. According to Chevron's translation, Ecuadorian lawyer Pablo Fajardo said Cabrera would simply "sign...and review" the plaintiffs' report without including his own analysis. Fajardo actually said Cabrera would write "all" of the report, "...give his criteria... right... his opinion, and sign the report, and review as well." Chevron also excluded from its court submission the contemporaneous English translation during the meeting, which confirms Chevron's manipulated translation. Chevron has claimed to U.S. courts that ex parte contacts with experts in Ecuador is illegal, when in fact the practice was commonly used by both parties and sanctioned by the court.