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LAGO AGRIO, Ecuador -- The cost of cleaning up a stretch of
Ecuador's Amazon jungle allegedly contaminated by Texaco has
increased by six-fold, according to a consultant hired by the
plaintiffs in a civil trial against San Ramon, Calif.-based
Georgia-based environmental consultant David Russell told The
Associated Press he conducted a one-month study which estimates the
clean up costs at $6.5 billion -- up from previous estimates of $1
billion or less.
The plaintiffs allege that Texaco chose to cut costs by dumping
18.5 billion gallons of wastewater brought up during drilling into
hundreds of open pits and streams instead of reinjecting it deep
The American consultant said his estimate was based on the costs
of cleaning up 627 pits, 125 miles of river bottom, 990 acres of
swampland and underground water systems. The costs also include
setting up laboratories and purchasing machinery, he said.
``If this had occurred in my country, they would have declared a
national disaster a long time ago,'' Russell said.
The lawsuit, filed by 88 people representing 30,000 poor jungle
settlers and Amazon Indians, came to Ecuador after a decade of
winding through the U.S. legal system.
It seeks to force ChevronTexaco to pay for health monitoring and
to clean up contamination that Texaco allegedly left behind when it
pulled out of Ecuador. Texaco merged with Chevron in 2001.
The trial marks the first time a multinational oil company has
been subjected to Ecuadorean jurisdiction for alleged environmental
ChevronTexaco has said it followed Ecuadorean environmental laws
and spent $40 million under a clean up agreement -- which was to
include about 350 of the 600-some pits -- with the Ecuadorean
government in 1995. The government certified the clean-up three years
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