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Amazon Defense Front trips up on its own data (again)

Date: Apr 30, 2010

The Chevron Pit, a blog “maintained by the team suing Chevron,” has dedicated two consecutive posts to unfounded allegations that Chevron “lied to Columbia Journalism Review writer Martha Hamilton.”  Clearly unhappy with a Columbia Journalism Review critique of “60 Minutes’” coverage of the Ecuador lawsuit, the Amazon Defense Front’s current efforts are only displaying the organization’s complete lack of credibility.  The first round of misrepresentations are documented here. In the latest barrage of misinformation, the “Pit” claims that “it looks like Chevron also lied to her about the drinking water well site near the oil well site.”

According to the Front: “A water sample taken in the trial directly from this freshwater well showed toxic levels of likely carcinogens and harmful heavy metals that are derived from oil, including benzo[a]pyrene, indeno[1,2,3]pyrene, and cadmium. The U.S. government has determined that each of these chemicals are likely or probable carcinogens, as reflected in a toxic substance registry maintained at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.”

We are at a loss to identify the “water sample taken in the trial.” Chevron’s data does not support this assertion and neither does the Front’s.  In fact, the following is a copy of the Front’s water data for samples collected at well site Shushufindi-38. The analysis was performed by Quito-based HAVOC laboratory and row “SSF38‐A2‐GW1‐NF(1.50)m” is their sample from the water well.

There’s a reason the Front makes claims without showing any data – the water well shows no exceedances of United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) drinking water criteria.  As displayed below, the Front’s result for cadmium (cadmio in Spanish) is 0.001 milligrams per liter (mg/L).  The USEPA National Primary drinking water regulation for cadmium is 0.005 milligrams per liter (mg/L).

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Likewise, the following are the Front’s PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or HAPs in Spanish) results.  Column “A051124” refers to results from the water well.

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The Front’s result for benzo[a]pyrene (pireno in Spanish) is 0.000031 milligrams per liter (mg/L).  The USEPA limit is 0.0002 mg/L.

The Front’s result for indeno[1,2,3]pyrene is 0.000012 mg/l.  There is no USEPA drinking water standard for indeno[1,2,3]pyrene.

So if the Front’s own data undermines the assertions it makes through its blog, what other accusations are being made that can’t be supported?  We already know that the Front’s lawyers submitted fabricated expert reports at the beginning of the trial.   If there was any merit to the Front’s lawyers’ case, they wouldn’t need to resort to making up evidence as they go along.