Amazon Defense Coalition: Oil Visible at “Remediated” Sites As Judge Rejects Chevron’s Motion to Delay $27 Billion Trial

COCA, Ecuador–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As part of a last-ditch effort to delay a final decision in the world’s largest environmental trial, additional soil testing demanded by Chevron backfired Tuesday when waste pits in Ecuador’s Amazon jungle that the company claimed to have “cleaned” a decade ago revealed large amounts of oil clearly visible to the naked eye.

The final series of tests of Chevron oil production sites, scheduled to be completed by the end of March, will clear the way for a court decision on a $27 billion damages claim against the company, said Julio Prieto, a lawyer for the 30,000 Amazon residents who have sued the oil giant over what experts believe is the worst oil-related contamination on the planet.

In what has become a common delay tactic in the epic 15-year legal battle, Chevron lawyer Adolfo Callejas had demanded for months that he be allowed to take soil samples at eight additional oil production sites even though the evidentiary phase of the case had been all but completed two years ago. The court scheduled the tests for Tuesday, but Callejas requested a postponement of the very tests he had called for just minutes before they were to be conducted even though court officials and technical experts had traveled under armed guard for hours to reach the sites deep in the jungle.

With Callejas and several colleagues watching, a court-appointed technical expert, Marcelo Munoz, lifted soil samples from waste pits that Texaco reportedly had “remediated”. Oil sludge was clearly visible to the naked eye in waste pits that Texaco had certified to Ecuador’s government as “cleaned” in the mid 1990s.

Since 2004, the court has inspected 94 former Chevron oil production facilities in the rainforest and found extensive toxic contamination at 100% of the sites, according to a 4,000-page report by a court-appointed expert and a team of 14 independent scientists released last year. That report found the oil giant could be liable for up to $27 billion in damages for creating what experts believe is the worst oil-related catastrophe on the planet, covering an area the size of Rhode Island.

The lawsuit seeks damages for the dumping of more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into Amazon waterways and the clean-up of 916 waste pits gouged out of the jungle floor. The pollution occurred between 1964 to 1992, when Texaco operated a large oil concession in the area, but the expert found it is still leaching toxins into soils and groundwater in an area where tens of thousands of people live.

Article here.

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