Chevron entered into a contract with the Ecuadorian government to extract oil from the heart of the amazon rainforest, 26 years ago. Today, Ecuador face many environmental hazards that affect the ways of living of indigenous tribes. The oil ridges contaminated the rivers, giving no clean water for bathing and drinking and thus also affecting a source of food (fishing). Ecuador is one of seventeen mega diversity countries (bio diversity) meaning that the amazon rainforest harbor most species that we know today.
The Cofan people are one of many indigenous tribe that have been greatly affected by this contract. Before Chevron texaco arrived many of the indigenous tribes lived traditional lifestyle and were largely untouched. the forest and river provided the physical and cultural subsistence base for their daily survival. Chevron first arrived in the backyard of the Cofan people and then founded the small town named Lago Argrio which was named after the town in texas where texaco was founded.
Little knowledge was given to the Ecuadorian government about how the extracting of oil was going to work, because no one had ever successful harvest oil from the amazon rainforest. Chevron Texaco was entrusted to make humanitarian decisions and was expected to respect the rainforest as they are only visitors to the land.1 Today, the Ecuadorian people fight for Chevron to pay its dues and to have the respect and decency to claim their mistake.
Extracting oil, can harm the environment but if it is harvested properly we can bypass the bad affects. Usually when harvesting oil, a well is drilled and a pits are created to temporally hold oil waste. Pits are lined with a heavy duty lining so that oil waste will not seep through. Crude oil is then extracted from the ground and goes through the separation tank. When the process is over produced water is re-injected to the ground, toxic waste from the pit are then disposed off properly, the lining is then taken off the pit get restored and returns into its natural state.
This process is the way oil companies extract oil in the United States. Chevron Texaco did not use this process when extracting from the amazon rainforest. This now questions the moral and ethical values of Chevron as a company. Chevron texaco did not line their pits, and did not re inject produced water to the ground but rather dumping it into the rivers. Chevron dumped about 16 billion gallons of toxic waste over the course of 26 years.
2 Causing it to contaminate the waters used for fishing and bathing. “they told us the black oil in the water was full of vitamins and minerals”- Emergildo Criollo leader of the Cofan group3. Toxic waste were 10x more then the tolerance level, cancer rates were 30x higher then the usual. More then 9,00 of the populations is going to contract cancer in the coming decades. Why use substandard process? Chevron Texaco was very clear that they only cared about protecting their profits, even if it effected the indigenous tribes around.
In 1993, the Chevron case was first brought to New York after the indigenous people of the Ecuadorian forest filed a lawsuit against Chevron Corp4. This huge international energy corporation was first sued under the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789 that originally provided a forum for victims of transnational pirates in the home country of the pillagers. Consequently the case was brought to an affluent suburban county in New York known as White Plains because this is where Texaco developed an oil production system for its operations in Ecuador. During this time Chevron fought the court in having the court case moved to Ecuador, this took nine years.
Shortly after the case was moved to Ecuador, Chevron struck a deal to spend $40 million to cosmetically treat a small fraction of the wells. This was a perfect opportunity for Chevron to close ties with Ecuador and to restore the amazon to the way they found it. Instead of taking the proper precautions, Chevron decided to just dump soil over the toxic wells and not disposing the toxic waste properly. Several independent scientist, appointed by an independent court, sampled more then 60,000 water and soil samples all concluded that 100% of the 94 former well sites all were contaminated with toxins all harmful to human health.
Many of the toxins contained levels higher then the US or Ecuadorian norm5. Chevron lie number 1: scientist provided evidence saying that Chevron Texaco did not cause any harm6. To back this up chevron hired outside, companies to collect samples from the sites and to state that there are no signs of contamination.7 This added to Chevrons publicity, because they we’re trying to get third parties involved.
They next launched a big media campaign showing that “chevron cared”. Chevron did far from caring, they simply decided to create lies in order to hide what they have really done. Up to date, Ecuador will forever face harmful threats to their health, and their environment will forever suffer. These environmental harms gave reason to the indigenous people of the amazon to fight for their rights.
Over the past two decades, the indigenous people of Ecuador achieved several milestones. One of winning recognition to land and the right to consultation. Acceptance of Ecuador as a “pluri-national” state, and stopping dangerous public policies and international trade pacts. 8This give them an upper hand into future oil companies planning to make endeavors into the amazon. Ecuador’s indigenous movement is considered one of the largest in the world. Chevron did not only, harm their land but the future of the country. Causing permanent damage, raising health risk, and destroying a means of lively hood.
All in all, Chevron was being sued primarily because they did not practice justice and human rights. Equally as evident was Chevron’s complete disregard for the environment and corporate responsibility. After more than 100,000 soil and water samples and just short ten year of litigation, Chevron was finally forced to take responsibility for the destruction in Ecuador. Ecuador finally saw justice in February of 2012 as Chevron was found guilty and ordered to pay $19 billion in damages.
Chevron should serve as an example of how greed, formally defined as mankind’s intense desire for something, can completely devastate local communities. This today is known as one of the worst environmental harms done. Today chevron continues to attempt to hide there damage, and is suing the Ecuadorian court for false ruling.