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Colombia Journalism Review – How 60 Minutes Missed on Chevron

Play CBS Video.” The arrow is superimposed on an image of old, rusting oil barrels emblazoned with Texaco’s name.

“Chevron is America’s third-largest company, behind ExxonMobil and WalMart,” intones correspondent Scott Pelley. “One way it got that big was by buying Texaco in 2001. Now that purchase of Texaco has pulled Chevron into a titanic struggle in the Amazon.”

Rusted barrels. Scene after scene of what appear to be contaminated well sites. Oozing oily black water and blazing flares from natural gas. And a campesino named Manuel Salinas scooping up black goo with a small stick, saying that he can’t drink the water from his well. The imagery is clear in the 60 Minutes segment that aired May 3, 2009.

The problem is the facts aren’t. There is no way to tell watching and listening to 60 Minutes production “Amazon Crude” where or whose responsibility most of the apparently polluted sites are. Although the segment mentions that Texaco left the area in 1992, scant attention is focused on state-owned Petroecuador, which has been the sole operator of former Texaco sites for the past twenty years.

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