Chevron's environmental oil case turns into duel in the Amazon

Source: LA Times

By Jim Wyss

April 30, 2011, LAGO AGRIO, Ecuador — Donald Moncayo walks to the edge of a flat grassy field that once held two large pits that brimmed with a stew of water and crude from an oil-drilling operation. He lifts a heavy auger above his head and prepares to plunge it into the ground.

"They always show you the shirt, the coat and the tie," he said of the area, called Sacha 53, which is now pastureland and spindly trees. "They never show you the tumor underneath the shirt."

For almost a decade, celebrities, journalists and shareholders have tromped through Ecuador's jungles on competing excursions that have become a routine part of what could be the world's most expensive environmental case.

The "Toxic Tour" — led by Moncayo — is held on behalf of some 30,000 Ecuadorian villagers who claim Chevron's predecessor poisoned their environment with shoddy environmental practices that included pumping millions of gallons of oil-tainted wastewater into creeks and streams.

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