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Chevron v Ecuador: the big oil battle where everyone’s a loser

Few willing to take responsibility for cleaning up waste as bitter 20 year fight over oil pollution heads for another legal judgement.

When an oil company makes a mess, who clears up, and who pays?

The answer would appear to be fairly simple, but in the case of the legal battle between Ecuador and Chevron, it’s anything but. Billed as a 'David v Goliath’ scenario by Ecuador President Rafael Correa, it boasts a $19 billion lawsuit, accusations of fraud, phone-tapping, together with an appearance from Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover.

What we know is that for 20 years Ecuadorian citizens in the oil rich states of Sucumbios and Orellana have sought compensation for what they say is damage caused by Chevron subsidiary Texaco. From 1972 to 1992 Texaco, bought by Chevron in 2001, extracted oil in a 440,000 hectare concession area, depositing polluted waste water in oilfield pits.

Texaco says it spent $40 million cleaning up its share of the pits, adding that this was approved in 1998 by Ecuador’s then government.  These actions failed to satisfy locals, who accuse the company of hiding toxic waste pits with a thin layer of top soil, and in a damning indictment, trying to convince people “oil contaminated waters would make them stronger”.

“Everything was contaminated, but you do not see everything at first glance,” Céline Meneses, a Special Adviser to the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister told RTCC. “Everything seems to be normal, there is vegetation. But what is a bit strange is there are no animals. You have insects, but no animals.”

For the complete article, please see RTCC.