WASHINGTON--()--Chevron’s abandonment of hundreds of toxic waste pits in Ecuador is being highlighted in a new video by the environmental group Amazon Watch as leaders of indigenous groups from that country blasted the oil giant for launching a misleading advertising campaign designed to cover up its massive environmental liabilities.
“Oil Companies Should Support the Communities They’re A Part Of”
The video, which can be seen on www.chevrontoxico.com, shows the devastating effects of the pits Chevron gouged out of the jungle floor decades ago and outfitted with gooseneck pipes to drain waste into streams that thousands of indigenous inhabitants relied on for their drinking water.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Chevron built and abandoned an estimated 916 of the pits in a 2,000-square mile area of Ecuador’s rainforest; none of them have been properly remediated, and most still leech cancer-causing toxins into groundwater, streams, and soils, according to the video.
The exact number of Chevron’s abandoned waste pits is unknown because Chevron never kept a log of the locations of each pit, according to a report on the contamination aired by 60 Minutes.
Several peer-reviewed health evaluations have found elevated rates of cancer in the area where Chevron operated, and one American expert recently submitted a report concluding that up to 10,000 faced a significant risk of contracting cancer in the coming decades because of the pollution.
The Amazon Watch video highlights a waste pit at Aguarico 4, one of 356 well sites that Texaco (now Chevron) operated in Ecuador when it ran an oil concession from 1964 to 1990.
Chevron is now a defendant in a multi-billion lawsuit in Ecuador that alleges it deliberately discharged more than 18 billion gallons of toxic “formation water” into rivers and streams, causing the worst oil-related contamination on earth. The plaintiffs have estimated damages at higher than $100 billion.
In the meantime, Chevron’s new ad campaign was blasted by leaders of the Amazonian communities suing the oil giant. The Wall Street Journal showed a picture of one ad, which said “Oil Companies Should Support the Communities They’re A Part Of”. It then said, “We Agree.”
Leaders of the affected communities in Ecuador said they considered the campaign “green washing” and asked that Chevron remove the ads from circulation.
“The reality is that Chevron has devastated dozens of indigenous and farmer communities in Ecuador,” said Luis Yanza, an Ecuadorian who coordinates the case against Chevron. “Chevron saying it cares about communities is certainly not our experience here in Ecuador, where people are hurting because of the company’s operations.”
Chevron is certainly spending far more on the ad campaign than it ever spent on remediating its toxic waste pits in Ecuador, said Yanza.
“The company’s brand would improve more by doing an actual clean-up rather than acting like it cares when it doesn’t,” he added.