Thursday, 19 September 2013 15:29

Chevron Battles Ecuadorian Victims of Environmental Contamination

An international arbitration tribunal issued a partial ruling in favor of Chevron and found the U.S. oil company isn't liable for the costs of environmental destruction in Ecuador.

The decision is part of an ongoing battle between Ecuadorean villagers and Chevron, in a decades-old dispute over environmental contamination by Texaco Inc., a company Chevron bought in 2001. The legal dispute calls for Chevron to take responsibility for Texaco’s contamination of the land and water supplies of 30,000 residents of Ecuador’s Amazon region. The next hearing will be in January 2014.

The plaintiffs in 2011 won a verdict against Chevron over contamination in the country's oil-rich jungles, among the largest environmental awards ever. But the oil company has refused to pay, instead pursuing a lawsuit in New York federal court that alleges the judgment was obtained illegitimately.

While Chevron continues to battle the villagers and refuse payment, the victims have won a successful suit through another court, awarding them the right to collect $96 million owed to Chevron in Ecuador. 

Chevron was previously awarded the $96 million from the Ecuadorian government due to a disputed claim that the government breached its agreement over the allocation of oil drilled jointly by Texaco (now part of Chevron) and PetroEcuador between 1973 and 1992.

A court decision transferred the rights to that award to the Ecuadorian villagers harmed by Chevron. This means that the villagers and not Chevron are entitled to the payment of the award.

Chevron was previously fined $19 billion for disastrous environmental contamination in Ecuador. The villagers who were harmed will be able to begin to collect on what they are owed through the transfer of the award.

Chevron’s actions contaminated Ecuador’s northern jungle and decimated the hunting and fishing grounds of indigenous peoples. Much of the damage occured under the operations of Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001.

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