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Plaintiffs’ Lawyers’ Statements on Groundwater Contamination Misleading and Incorrect

In virtually every public statement and news release, the plaintiffs’ lawyers and their activist NGO partners claim that the remediated sites that Texaco was responsible for under the 1995 Remediation Action Plan (RAP) “contain cancer-causing toxins at levels hundreds of times higher than U.S. and Ecuadorian law allows.”

Not surprisingly, the plaintiffs’ lawyers fail to mention that they are attempting to apply remediation standards that were passed in 2001, three years after Texaco Petroleum’s remediation work was completed and certified by the government of Ecuador.

For the basis of their argument the plaintiffs’ lawyers point to the 2001 standard, as outlined in Decree 1215 of the environmental regulations of Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment, which is intended to govern environmental aspects of hydrocarbon production. An important point to note is that the Ecuadorian constitution prohibits retroactive application of the 2001 law.

Nonetheless, the plaintiffs’ lawyers point to the 1,000 parts per million (ppm) total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) standard as outlined in Decree 1215 as the basis of their statements. Not only can this standard not be applied retroactively, the 1,000 ppm figure only applies to “patrimony national natural areas or others identified in a corresponding environmental study.”  This means a national park or a designated protected area. At no point in time were remediated areas designated as national parks. Further, Petroecuador currently remediates below 2,500 ppm TPH (1215’s agricultural land standard) with the full approval of the government of Ecuador.

The remediation work that Texaco performed was and is consistent with what was required by the government of Ecuador. Texaco’s remediated sites have been conclusively shown to pose no threat to human health or the environment. Regrettably, the plaintiffs’ lawyers are engaged in an exercise to misrepresent not only the standards of the time, but the remediation standards that govern Petroecuador’s remediation work today. Further, they are inventing new remediation standards (100 ppm TPH) that no one in Ecuador is required to meet in order to mislead the public, the media, and the court to achieve personal financial gain.

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