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Amazon Defense Coalition: Chevron Lawyers Commit Fraud to Undercount Oil Contamination in Ecuador

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WASHINGTON--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Amazon Defense Coalition: Chevron Lawyers Commit Fraud to Undercount Oil Contamination in Ecuador; Oil Giant Produced Deceptive Sampling Results to Court. a sty

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									Amazon Defense Coalition: Chevron Lawyers
Commit Fraud to Undercount Oil Contamination
in Ecuador
Oil Giant Produced Deceptive Sampling Results to Court

April 29, 2010 10:43 AM Eastern Daylight Time  

WASHINGTON--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Chevron’s lawyers are trying to defraud an Ecuadorian Court
by reporting contamination results in an environmental trial using laboratory tests that intentionally exclude the
detection of harmful hydrocarbons, representatives of the indigenous and farmer communities suing Chevron said
today.

By failing to report the full range of hydrocarbon pollution, Chevron’s legal team has been reporting artificially low
contamination levels in thousands of sampling results from open-air waste pits, said Karen Hinton, a spokesperson
for the Amazon Defense Coalition. The goal appears to be to minimize the company’s liability, which has been
estimated to be as high as $27.3 billion, said Hinton.

“Chevron lawyers are using fraudulent testing methods to create ‘proof’ that the contamination in Ecuador is less
extensive than it is,” said Pablo Fajardo, the Ecuadorian lawyer for the 30,000 plaintiffs who allege the company
polluted a large swath of rainforest by dumping toxic waste and using sub-standard operational practices.

“This is the latest example of Chevron lawyers trying to hide a major chemical hazard from the court and the local
population,” he added.

The lawsuit accuses the oil giant of deliberately dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into the rainforest from
1964 to 1990, when Texaco (bought by Chevron in 2001) was the exclusive operator of large oil concession. The
resulting contamination is considered one of the most extensive in history and has decimated indigenous groups and
caused an outbreak of cancer and other health problems, according to the plaintiffs.

Fajardo said the fraudulent testing practices employed by Chevron include the following:

Use of faulty test method: Chevron defends the use of an inappropriate test to measure the contamination at the
large unlined waste pits Texaco claims to have cleaned in the 1990s. Called the TCLP (Toxicity Characteristic
Leaching Procedure), the test runs water over soils contaminated with hydrocarbons, and measures hydrocarbons in
the runoff. Because water and oil don’t mix, the liquid runoff contains almost none of the oil in the soil – thereby
guaranteeing Chevron’s desired finding of minimal contamination.

Experts believe the TCLP test captures only about 1% of the hydrocarbon contamination in soil. Chevron used the
TCLP test results to dupe Ecuador’s government into giving it a legal release after its sham clean-up of a small
portion of the waste pits, said Fajardo.

Use of the TCLP test made it physically impossible for Chevron to be considered in violation of the law in Ecuador
during its so-called remediation even if the site was completely filled with oil, said Fajardo. “The Chevron test was so
flawed even a glass full of pure oil would pass with flying colors,” he added.

The plaintiffs discovered Texaco’s use of the TCLP test after the normal TPH tests used in the trial showed illegal
levels of contamination at the so-called “remediated” sites. The difference in results between the two tests is startling:
at one of Texaco’s “remediated” well sites (Sacha 18), Chevron reported less than 1,000 ppm of TPH using the
TCLP test while the site actually had more than 35,000 ppm of TPH using the normal test.
Fajardo said the legal release derived from the fraudulent TCLP testing – a problem for Chevron, since the release is
the linchpin of the company’s defense at trial.

Failure to test for complete spectrum of hydrocarbons: During the environmental trial in Ecuador, Chevron only
tested for gasoline and diesel ranges of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons and deliberately excluded hydrocarbon
compounds in crude oil that boil at temperatures above the diesel range. This lowered the amount of contamination
reported to the court; the testing method violates standard practice in the U.S. and in the industry.

Soil sampling locations minimize contamination: Chevron also tried to lower contamination reported to the court
by selecting locations uphill or far away from the source of the contamination. Chevron has consistently refused to
take samples from areas where oil contamination is visibly present, including open oil pits built and abandoned by
Texaco.

Using inappropriate clean-up standards: Chevron has proposed that the Ecuador court adopt a clean-up
standard of 10,000 ppm for TPH – roughly 100 times higher than the mean U.S. standard, and ten times higher than
Ecuador’s standard of 1000 ppm. In other words, Chevron in effect is saying the Ecuadorian people should live in
contamination 100 times higher than the levels allowed in the U.S., said Fajardo.

Lying about independent laboratory: New evidence also indicates that Chevron set up a laboratory in Ecuador to
process soil and water samples from the trial that was under its control, even though it reported the results to the
court as being processed independently, said Fajardo. This was revealed by Chevron whistleblower Diego Borja in
audio recordings released by the plaintiffs.

About the Amazon Defense Coalition

The Amazon Defense Coalition represents dozens of rainforest communities and five indigenous groups that inhabit
Ecuador’s Northern Amazon region.

Contacts
Amazon Defense Coalition
Karen Hinton, 703-798-3109
karen@hintoncommunications.com

Permalink: http://eon.businesswire.com/news/eon/20100429006265/en/Aguinda-v-Chevron/Chevron/Pablo-
Fajardo

								
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