The Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ representatives have consistently made false and misleading statements about oil contamination of the rivers and streams in Ecuador’s Amazon region. The claims that water is contaminated by oil, let alone oil from Texaco’s operations, is contradicted by the legitimate science presented at trial, and now stands at odds with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who, in the past, has sided publically with the American trial lawyers suing Chevron.
On June 9, President Correa said in his weekly nationwide broadcast: “The biggest contaminating factor for our fresh water is waste, sewage from the cities… Like the contamination of the Tena River, it’s not oil. It’s not mining. It’s the sewage from Tena.” These statements weren’t a onetime occurrence. Previously, on March 22, he told local TV, “Do you know what the main cause of pollution of our rivers is, the fresh water they say they defend? It is the sewage of the cities that everybody pours into the rivers because there has never been investment in sewer systems, sanitation facilities.” And again on March 24, he restated these facts, saying, “The main cause, the main danger for fresh water in Ecuador is not mining or oil, not even farming… The main danger is sewage that comes from the cities and is poured into the rivers, lakes, such as San Pablo Lake.”
The president’s accurate observations confirm the findings of Chevron’s experts during the Lago Agrio trial. The expert’s exhaustive tests of rivers, streams, household wells and municipal water sources in the former concession area resulted in more than 7,000 analyses of drinking water samples from almost 250 different sources. More than 99 percent of these analyses met World Health Organization and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards for petroleum hydrocarbons. However, 79 percent of the drinking water samples in the area contained fecal coliform/E.coli bacteria far in excess of safe drinking water standards, primarily due to a lack of sanitary services in the region.
The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that the plaintiffs’ claims of petroleum-contaminated drinking water are false- a fact well known by plaintiffs’ lawyers. When all legitimate evidence disproved their claims, they didn’t make the ethical choice and admit their mistake, they went the other direction and turned to fraud.
For more on the expert’s findings regarding water resources in the former concession area, see this report, this report, and this report, prepared and submitted to the Provincial Court of Sucumbíos in 2008 and 2010.