The videos below reveal what Chevron doesn't want you to see – detailed interviews and substantive discussions about the oil giant's horrific and devastating contamination of the Ecuadorian rainforest. In a desperate attempt to derail a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against it, Chevron has taken heavily-edited and out-of-context snippets of outtakes from the film CRUDE and submitted them as evidence in U.S. courts to undermine the lawsuit, brought by indigenous tribal communities. For the first time, though, you can see many of the most informative outtakes in their entirety without Chevron's manipulative edits. These videos tell the true story of a oil company that intentionally dumped billions of gallons of toxic water and oil into the rainforest, faked a cleanup to avoid huge costs and then covered up the phony remediation by lying about it in both U.S. and Ecuadorian courts.
"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 Chevron's evidence tampering.) They also 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."
"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?"
"I have seen some nasty sites in the U.S. .... There is nowhere in the U.S. that's anything like this....it's so widespread."
After a day of viewing oil pits, experts discuss what they saw: residents trying unsuccessfully to filter their drinking water so it's 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."
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 (see here and here).
"(Chevron) is playing tricks in order to diminish, to minimize, to dilute the evidence of contamination."
The plaintiff's engineer, Natalie Wilmars, 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."
Chevron Gives Courts Inaccurate Translation As "Smoking Gun" Evidence Of Fraud
By the time the plaintiffs acquired this 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 "...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. Read more here.
Plaintiffs & Chevron Met With Experts In Accordance With Court Procedures
Chevron has tried to paint the plaintiffs "as criminal" because they met with and provided contamination findings to a court-appointed expert, even though Chevron has done the same thing with a judge and another court-appointed expert in the case. Chevron argues that a short clip from this outtakes proves its charges; however, the company’s "evidence" does not stand up to scrutiny when viewed in the context of a meeting with plaintiffs’ environmental experts discussing plans for how to best collect and prepare materials for the court-appointed expert, Richard Cabrera.
Chevron Lawyer's Freudian Slip Reveals Truth
Even Chevron tells the truth every now and then. In a scene in CRUDE, Chevron lawyer Ricardo Reis Veiga explains the eight remediation steps for cleaning a pit and admits in a Freudian slip that all Chevron did was "push dirt onto the pits." Veiga and Chevron lawyer Rodrigo Perez Pallares, along with seven former government officials, are under indictment for negotiating a fraudulent 1995 remediation agreement that Chevron says released it from all liabilities. Problem is the remediation never happened, and the agreement released only government claims, not individual claims (See here).
Chevron Lawyer To Sick Children: "Scientifically Nobody Has Proven That Crude Causes Cancer."
Chevron lawyer Rodrigo Perez Pallares, who masterminded the phony cleanup with Roberto Reis Veiga, sounds like a tobacco lawyer denying that smoking causes cancer in this BBC interview. Another unidentified Chevron lawyer asks about the children with cancer, "Did they show you a medical certificate," and then shrugs in shoulders in disgust. Pallares uses similar arguments that tobacco lawyers once used to defend smoking by pointing to other causes of cancer and declaring how difficult it is to prove "our crude" resulted in the cancer. Not one word of concern, however, for the children who are sick and dying. Fifty scientists submitted this letter to a prestigious scientific journal endorsing a survey method used to measure cancer rates in contaminated areas.
Chevron Lawyer Says Contamination As Safe As Oil On Face
Hear Chevron lawyer Silvia M. Garrigo tell millions of 60 Minutes viewers that the oil dumped into the Ecuadorian rainforest is as safe as the oil on her face and that Chevron has found no toxins in the soil and water. After some prompting from correspondent Scott Pelley, Garrigo finally admits that Texaco, Chevron's predecessor, built the oil pits and operated the exploration system that polluted the rainforest. Garrigo: "In the thousands of soil and water samples that we have taken in the Amazon, there has been no detection of any type of toxin that is not naturally occurring in the environment, and that is dangerous to human health or the environment....Oil is naturally occurring in the environment. It just depends where it is. I have makeup on, and there's naturally occurring oil on my face. Doesn't mean that I'm going to get sick from it."
Chevron "Cooked" Evidence in Environmental Trial, According to Their Own Contractor
In a series of stunning revelations from recorded conversations, longtime Chevron contractor Diego Borja threatened to reveal damaging evidence "cooked" by Chevron in the environmental trial in Ecuador unless he received enough money for turning over secret videotapes to high-ranking Chevron executives in June 2009.
At one point, Borja laughed and said, "Crime does pay."
This is just a sample of Borja's recorded revelations. Click here to view a complete report including all of the audio files, transcripts, and other supporting documents.
- Borja said that if Chevron tricked him and "if something bad happened to me...and they don't give my wife what they have to...what it supposedly should be....There's a document for that, where I ... immediately go to the other side....I have correspondence that talks about things you can't even imagine, dude....I can't talk about them here, dude, because I'm afraid, but they're things that can make the Amazons win this just like that (snapping his fingers)." (Recording 4, October 1, 2009 pp. 3, 7-9)
- When discussing the trajectory of the lawsuit, post-judgment, in the U.S., Borja said that if the U.S. judge (who allowed the case to be moved from a U.S. court to Ecuador in 2002) found out what really happened in Ecuador, Chevron would have no case in the United States. In a possible reference to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Borja said: "....if the judge here finds out that the company did cooked things, he'll say, 'Tomorrow we better close them down,' you get it?" (Recording 6, October 1, 2009 pp. 10-11)
- Borja said he has evidence that the laboratory used by Chevron to test for contamination was not independent. "Chevron always stayed, supposedly, independent, and sent the analysis to have them analyzed... But I know that's not true ... I have proof that they [laboratories] were more than connected, they belonged to them." He stated that, beginning in 2004, he was the person who signed the contract to rent the house where Chevron's ("independent") lab tested contamination samples. (Recording 6, October 1, 2009 pp. 6- 8; Recording 11, October 1, 2009, p. 6)
- Escobar also told me that Borja said he and wife stored testing samples in their refrigerator in their Quito office before mailing them to STL. (Test America, Inc., purchased STL in 2007.) Escobar stated that as a contractor for Chevron, Borja often worked at the contamination sites and collected evidence, yet he and Portilla also signed chain of custody documents with the court as STL representatives. Portilla signed them as an STL Project Manger and used the email address, email@example.com. See Borja's and Portilla's signature on STL documents.
- Borja stated that when he came to the U.S. in June 2009 he not only shared the videos with Chevron officials at San Ramon he also "sent them messages about everything else I had also, you get it? Like, 'See, you can trust me because of this, this, this, this...You know why my company was created?'" He reminded them why his company, Interintelg, S.A., was formed (at Chevron's request). Borja stated that he has all sorts of evidence showing "who he really was" when he worked for Chevron in Ecuador. (Recording 4, October 1, 2009 pp.12-13; Recording 6, October 1, 2009 pp. 8-10)
Borja's Relationship With Chevron
- Borja stated that his wife, Sara Portilla, worked for Chevron (as a contractor) for four years and that the plaintiffs are unaware of this. He said that she worked in the same office as Borja in the Borja-Paez building in Quito, where Chevron's legal team has been located. Borja's uncle owns the building and has worked for Chevron for over 30 years. (Recording 11, October 1, 2009 pp. 7-8)
- Borja said he has worked for Chevron for years. At one point, he said for the past five years (since 2004). Another time, he said he had worked for Chevron, in some capacity, since age 24 (approximately nine years). Borja told Escobar that his signatures could be found on documents in the court file in Lago Agrio dating back to the beginning of his work for Chevron. He said the plaintiffs were unaware of this. He also said that when Chevron said he only worked on the last eight inspections, he knew that was not true. (Recording 11, October 1, 2009 p. 6-8; Recording 4, October 1, 2009 p. 13)
- Borja said he formed four companies for Chevron in order to make the work he did appear to be independent of Chevron. He implies that Chevron controls these companies. (Recording 4, October 1, 2009 pp. 12-13; Recording 6, October 1, 2009 p. 9)
- Sounding angry, Borja said Chevron could not force him to testify. "I told them,...if I feel that I'm being tricked, you'll eat shit." ....they're (Chevron executives) right here, 40 minutes from me... from where I live. Just 45 minutes away is the office of the [Unintelligible], so I just show up, ring the bell and everyone knows who I am. I sit down and tell them, 'Let's see, this is the way it is.' And the joke is over, dude, you get it?.... I'll shit on them in a second [Unintelligible]. I mean, what they... what I'm trying to explain to them is that I also have... I don't know how much to say, but I have only so much patience, you get it? (Recording 5, October 1, 2009 pp. 4-5, 11)
- Borja described Chevron as a sophisticated operation with "smart people" who "have all the tools in the world to go after everyone, you get it? .... Because these guys, once the trial is over, they'll go after everyone who was saying things about it, you get it?" (Recording 24, October 15, 2009 pp. 4-5; Recording 25, October 18, 2009 pp. 1-10)
"Bribery" Videotapes & Payment For Them
- Bragging that with the videotapes he had "tipped" the balance in Chevron's favor, Borja said he had done in "...three days? two days?" what Chevron had been unable to do in a year by getting the judge dismissed, even though, as Borja acknowledged in another conversation, "there was no bribe....there was never a bribe." (Recording 5, October 1, 2009 pp. 1-2; Recording 19, October 1, 2009 p. 11)
- When he first spoke with Chevron about the videos, Borja said he expected to be covered in terms of security and economically – "in everything" after handing over the videos. He told them, "Obviously, I'm not going to ask for anything now, because it would ruin everything." Chevron told him not to worry, but it is "totally understood." (Recording 21, October 7, 2009 p. 11)
- According to Borja, Chevron told him "We can't give you money because...it would compromise the evidence.... What we can do is (make you) our business partner." Borja continued, "Now, that little word means a lot of things, right?" When Escobar then said, "the objective is to become their partner. I mean, once you're a partner of the guys, you've got it made," Borja replied, "That's right you dog. So, I... I've seen how things work here now. I mean, it's a brass ring this big, brother." (Recording 2, October 1, 2009 p. 6)
- Borja said he is receiving a monthly stipend from Chevron. He claimed to have been making $10,000 per month while living in Ecuador, and said that Chevron is paying him an amount that allows him to live at the same level in the United States. He said the company is renting him a fully-furnished $6,000 per month house, in Berkeley (he lies about the location – it's actually in San Ramon). He said all of his expenses are paid, and he has a Saturn SUV to drive. He also said he has security guards watching him. He said his house is located in a gated community and borders a golf course. He has a swimming pool. (Recording 3, October 1, 2009 pp. 12-15)
Borja's Notarized Documents
- Borja said he has a notarized document that contains a version of past events that would help the plaintiffs. "....I mean what I have is conclusive evidence, photos of how they managed things internally." He has this information saved on his iPhone. Some of the information is in the form of incriminating emails. Borja said his wife knows about everything he has stored on his iPhone. (Recording 4, October 1, 2009 pp. 3-9)
- Borja described Wayne Hansen as crazy, repeatedly calling him "really crazy," and "legally, in his mind he's disabled" Borja stated that he essentially wrote out a script, which Hansen read in the meetings that were videotaped. (Recording 2, October 1, 2009 pp. 5, 10-13; Recording 12, October 1, 2009 p. 1)