Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Media Outlets: Chevron Polluted the Crap Out of Ecuador's Amazon Rainforest

Reposted from The Chevron Pit

According to numerous independent media outlets, Chevron indeed polluted the crap out of Ecuador's Amazon region.

We have long known that three layers of courts and eight appellate judges in Ecuador unanimously confirmed Chevron's responsibility for causing the extensive oil pollution found in the affected area. Less known is the array of respected journalists who independently have confirmed the evidence against Chevron by observing the damage with the naked eye.

These journalists include Scott Pelley of CBS News; Frank Bajak of the Associated Press; Simon Romero of the New York Times; Juan Forero of the Washington Post; and Patrick Radden Keefe of The New Yorker, among others.

Chevron, in what has to be one of the all-time great examples of a corporation sticking its head in the sand, continues to deny it has caused a major pollution problem in Ecuador. While those indigenous and farmer communities affected continue to suffer from high cancer rates, the company has refused to pay the $9.5 billion environmental judgment needed for a clean-up.

Chevron's position that there is "no problema" in Ecuador has no credibility.

Here is a brief summary, culled from the archives of from several major media outlets, of how Chevron impacted and continues to harm the environment in the area where it operated (under the Texaco brand) from 1964 to 1992.

CBS News Anchor Scott Pelley, on 60 Minutes in 2009, at an abandoned Chevron waste pit:

"Well, it rains here in the rainforest all the time, so there's water pouring out of [the waste pit] now. And if you smell the water, you can clearly smell the oil pollution in it. Runs right down the ravine... and right down into the stream, not 50 yards that way."

"Waste pits like those left behind by Chevron are supposed to be temporary and isolated from fresh water but in Ecuador one pit 60 Minutes saw has been there for 25 years and we found it's actually designed to overflow into streams."

Clifford Krauss and Simon Romero, writing in The New York Times in 2009:

Romero visited Chevron's waste pits and found that "black gunk from the pits seeps to the topsoil here and in dozens of other spots in Ecuador's Northeastern jungle."

"Evidence of [ChevronTexaco's] contamination is unavoidable at well sites near Lago Agrio and other towns in the region."

"Some pools of waste dug by Texaco combining noxious drilling mud and crude oil still lie exposed under the sun, seeping into nearby water systems."

Columnist Bob Herbert, writing in The New York Times in 2010:  

"What's not in dispute is that Texaco operated more than 300 oil wells for the better part of three decades in a vast swath of Ecuador's northern Amazon region... Much of that area has been horribly polluted."

Juan Forero, writing for the Washington Post, 2009:

"After a walk along a forest trail, [the guide] stopped at a pool that had been used by Texaco and poked a long stick into the black sludge. Waste also dripped out through a drainage pipe and ran down to a creek below."

"Chevron acknowledges that Texaco used unlined waste pits."

Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, 2013:

A guide for Keefe dug up "a fistful of black mud and held it so that the sunlight caught the telltale blue-orange tint of petroleum. At one fetid pit... he stepped gingerly onto the surface of the pool, where the solid matter in the produced water had congealed into a tarlike crust that was sturdy enough to support him.  Smiling a little, [the guide] shifted his weight from one foot to the other, until the whole surface began to undulate beneath him. He looked like a kid on a waterbed."

"[The guide] led us down a steep ravine to a creek. In the gauzy light filtering through the canopy, the water, which was only a foot deep, looked crystalline. [The guide] drove a stick into the creek bed and churned the mud until the water grew clouded by sediment... I skimmed my hand across the surface of the creek. My palm was coated in an acrid film."

Jim Wyss, writing for the Miami Herald, in 2011:

The guide "plunges his auger into the ground. Within a few inches the dirt gives off the pungent odor of petroleum. Within a few feet the dirt glistens with oil residue. When a few handfuls of the soil are dropped into a bucket of water, a thick oil slick coats the surface."

Frank Bajak, Associated Press, 2008:

In town of Lago Agrio, the epicenter of the damage, Bajak notes that "when the sun beats particularly hot... the roads sweat petroleum."

The guide "plunges a surgical glove-sheathed hand into the muck of one waste pit. He pulls up rancid, oil-coated leaves from surrounding saplings. A pipe juts out of another pit, dripping what looks like crystalline water that reeks of petroleum hydrocarbons."

Bajak notes "a fresh spill... dark and gooey. Bigger spills have smothered crops, choked birds, killed cattle."

Valerie Pacheco, AFP, 2011:

"[Lead named plaintiff Maria Aguinda] skeptically eyes the ongoing cleanup of a marsh just meters from her house, where workers dressed in oil-stained yellow overalls dredge thick black ooze into suction pipes."

"A strong petroleum smell permeates Rumipampa, home to nine families, some of whom complain of headaches."

Tom Levitt, The Ecologist, 2012:

"Billions of gallons of toxic waste from oil drilling in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s has polluted streams and rivers in the province of Sucumbios, used by indigenous communities for drinking, bathing, and fishing."

James North, The Nation, 2015:

"We set off into the rain forest. Oil pipelines of various sizes run alongside the roads; in one spot, you can count dozens of them, like strands of spaghetti. [The guide] started at Aguarico 2, a well that has been closed for years... The oil residue is still floating to the surface.  Then [we] marched down a steep slope to a stream, where you could see and smell the oil as well."

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