U.S. Water News Online
QUITO, Ecuador -- A lawyer for indigenous groups suing
ChevronTexaco Corp. said the U.S. oil giant cheated Ecuador by never
fully complying with a government order to clean up toxic pollution
in a swath of Amazon jungle.
"The company tricked the government," Steven Donziger told The
Associated Press. "There are chemicals like chromium, cadmium, lead
and other chemicals, active, and they still affect people and
Donziger said experts on his legal team inspected three toxic
holding pools that Texaco was supposed to have cleaned up.
The group's subsequent report, alleging "fraud" by the company,
was presented to a judge in Lago Agrio, the Amazon town, 112 miles
northeast of the capital, where the case is being tried.
Rodrigo Perez, a lawyer for ChevronTexaco, said "the plaintiff's
report lacks foundation because it is based on information from
people who are not qualified to measure the impacts on human health
and of petroleum operations."
"This document has no value whatsoever," Perez said, adding that
the company has "demonstrated that its remediation eliminated the
potential risks of contamination."
The ongoing lawsuit, brought by 88 people representing 30,000 poor
jungle settlers and Amazon Indians, opened in the rural Ecuador court
in October 2003 after a decade of winding through U.S. courts.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled in 2002
that the case should be heard in the country where the damage
The plaintiffs want ChevronTexaco to pay to clean up contamination
and provide medical care for people harmed by pollution. They
estimate the costs could reach US$1 billion.
The plaintiffs allege that Texaco, which merged with Chevron in
2001, chose to cut costs between 1972 and 1990 by dumping 18.5
billion gallons of oily wastewater brought up by drilling into more
than 600 open pits and streams in the Amazon jungle.
The company says the lawsuit is unfounded and that it complied
with a government cleanup plan from 1995-1998.
ChevronTexaco responded to Donziger's allegations, releasing a
statement accusing the plaintiffs of violating court-dictated terms
laying out how the scientific analysis should be conducted.
The opinions expressed by the plaintiffs "are irresponsible and
seek to confuse public opinion," the statement said.
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