It seems that Chevron will do anything to keep their corporate reputation pristine, including whitewashing soil samples that have been contaminated with oil.
On April 8, 2015, Amazon Watch released hours of corporate videotape uploaded by a Chevron whistleblower. Along with the tapes, there was a message:
“I hope this is useful for you in your trial against Texaco/Chevron. [signed] A Friend from Chevron.”
The images are shocking.The tapes show Texaco workers (Texaco having been purchased by Chevron in 2000) traveling hundreds of miles through the Amazon trying to find “clean” oil samples to prove that the Lago Agrio oil field is not polluted. Shockingly, the tapes show Texaco consultants, managers, and workers laughing about the depth and breadth of the oil damage to even the deepest part of the forest, making their attempts to exonerate themselves almost impossible.
What the Tapes Show
In one of the leaked videos dated March 2005, Texaco employee “Rene” jokes with a consultant named “Dave” near the Shushufindi 21 well site – a site that has been the subject of an ongoing litigation battle between the natives and Chevron.
“… you keep finding oil in places where it shouldn’t have been…. Nice job, Dave. Give you one simple task: Don’t find petroleum.”
In addition, the tapes include interviews with people who live near the sites that Chevron claims to have remediated. And more than one of them discuss the death and destruction that Texaco left behind.
In a segment that has been viewed over a million times on YouTube, on man named José describes how he lost three daughters due to the contamination the company left behind. Despite his pleas for help, the groundwater and local soil – which he claims is damaged beyond repair – still have not been remediated.
Initially, when the residents around the Shushufindi are of the Lago Agrio field began to complain about their livestock dying and their drinking water being contaminated, Chevron’s response was to “clean up” the disaster and then move production out of Ecuador.
Then, in 2011, the Ecuador court system awarded the Ecuadorians $9.5 billion in damages which Chevron refused to pay. Instead, it claimed that its Texaco acquisition was being targeted for extortion by Petroecuador, the nation’s centralized governmental oil facility. It began a countersuit.
Although the company claimed to have cleaned up the contamination in 1998, local residents interviewed on the Chevron Tapes tell graphic stories about continual pollution that was merely covered up.
Out of the dozens of tapes that were anonymously sent to Amazon Watch, there are hours of footage of native people drinking, washing, and working in contaminated soil and water. Oil sheen can be seen on everything from footprint indentations to deep core soil samples that Texaco took at unremediated well sites.
Despite 10 years of litigation, the battle is ongoing. How it will end depends on information – and these tapes are a start.
How an Investigator Can Help
In order for the Ecuadorians to truly make their case stick, they need more concrete evidence with a proven trail. That means, it’s time for the whistleblower to be found. Only when that person comes forward with his or her true identity can these incredible tapes gain the momentum and legal weight that they deserve.
If the Ecuadorians were to hire a private investigator to look into the initial location of the tapes and do some digging, they would be able to get a face and name where they could go to for more information. Hiring an investigation firm like Lauth Investigations International would help them come up with the evidence that would prove their story once and for all.
See the Chevron Tapes now:
For more information about the case, check out these resources: