*Cross-posted from 'The Chevron Pit,' a blog maintained by the legal team representing the plaintiffs suing Chevron for environmental clean-up in Ecuador:
Try comparing the environmental disaster that Chevron created in Ecuador's Amazon to the oil slick that now threatens the Gulf Coast states.
The disaster at "Deepwater Horizon" is causing an oil well to bleed some 200,000 gallons of oil a day into the ecosystem. And this was a horrible accident.
If you can believe it, this is only a fraction of what Texaco (now Chevron) deliberately dumped in Ecuador's rainforest when it operated hundreds of oil wells there from 1964 to 1990.
Chevron has admitted that Texaco dumped toxic "produced water" into the Ecuadorian rainforest and into the streams and rivers that 30,000 people used for their bathing and drinking water. "Produced water" can contain a toxic mixture of chemicals, including benzene and other components of crude oil. Some believe that approximately 2% of produced water is pure crude oil.
Over the course of 26 years, Chevron has acknowledged that it dumped more than 18.5 billion gallons of the industrial waste into the waterways of the populated and sensitive ecosystem, or 4 million gallons per day at the height of its operation. Put another way, Chevron's dumping of 18.5 billion gallons of produced water is the equivalent of discharging 332 million gallons of crude directly into the rainforest.
Without taking anything away from the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico, at the rate that the Deepwater Horizon spill is going, it will have to discharge 200,000 gallons per day for 1,660 days to dump as much oil as Chevron deliberately dumped into the Ecuadorian rainforest. That is a little over 4.5 years.
And that only accounts for the pure crude oil Chevron dumped – not the oil it spilled from shoddy operation practices, or the 98% of the "produced water" that isn't pure crude, but encompasses a toxic "cocktail" of industrial runoff, salty water, and other chemicals. If you want to start comparing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to the entirety of Chevron's dumping in Ecuador (all the produced water it has admitted to dumping, not just the crude oil), consider this: at a rate of 200,000 gallons a day, the Deepwater Horizon spill would have to go on for 92,500 days to spill 18.5 billion gallons into the environment. 92,500 days. 253 years. And no, that isn't a typo.
The worst part? Deepwater Horizon was an accident. But Chevron's actions in Ecuador, through its predecessor company Texaco, were the product of a system designed to dump toxic waste directly into the environment to keep production costs to a bare minimum.
Since the Deepwater Horizon incident happened, BP has taken full responsibility for the spill. More than 2,500 people have been mobilized to respond to the disaster, and the company has insisted that it will pay for a full clean up. Of course, we will see what ultimately happens – but at least it's a good start.
Chevron's response to their disaster in Ecuador? The opposite. Chevron has launched a full-scale litigation war to cover up the disaster and the company's own fraud in a purported remediation in the mid-1990s. It has committed fraud on the court by engaging in deceptive sampling practices and by controlling a laboratory that it represented as independent, according to audio recordings of one of Chevron's longtime contractors involved in the fraud, Diego Borja.
If the Ecuador disaster happened within the U.S., Chevron would be pressured and shamed into cleaning it up. In Ecuador, where the company disregarded the rights of the local indigenous groups on its way to ever higher profits, we see nothing of the sort.