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Court upholds ruling that Chevron must pay $18bn for Amazon pollution

The lawsuit sought damages on behalf of 30,000 people for environmental contamination and illnesses that allegedly resulted from operations in the Amazon rain forest over an 18-year period.

An activist from the Amazon Defense Coalition, looks at oil remains over a well that was repaired by Texaco during its operation in Ecuador's Sucumbios province.
An activist from the Amazon Defense Coalition, looks at oil remains over a well that was repaired by Texaco during its operation in Ecuador's Sucumbios province.
Image: Dolores Ochoa/AP/Press Association Images

AN APPEALS COURT in Ecuador upheld an $18 billion (€13.8 billion) ruling against Chevron Corp. for oil pollution in the Amazon rain forest more than two decades ago.

The ruling confirmed a February judgment in the case. The Ecuadorean plaintiffs said in a statement that the decision is based on scientific evidence presented at trial proving that waste had poisoned the water supply.

“The appellate court relied on a record that proved that Chevron has violated the rights of the communities where it operates,” the plaintiffs said in the emailed statement.

The lawsuit deals with pollution of the rain forest by energy company Texaco, which Chevron bought in 2001.

Chevron denounced the appeals court’s decision and said it will continue to seek recourse in other courts outside Ecuador.

“Today’s decision is another glaring example of the politicisation and corruption of Ecuador’s judiciary that has plagued this fraudulent case from the start,” Chevron said in a statement.

The San Ramon, California-based company has previously alleged fraud in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs have also accused Chevron of defrauding the Ecuadorean court to hide the scale of the oil contamination.

By the time of last year’s judgment, the case had been winding its way through US and Ecuadorean courts for more than 17 years.

The suit was originally filed in a New York federal court in 1993 against Texaco and dismissed three years later after the oil company argued that Ecuador was the proper venue to hear the case. The suit was refiled in Ecuador in 2003.

Though it had only 47 named plaintiffs, the lawsuit sought damages on behalf of 30,000 people for environmental contamination and illnesses that allegedly resulted from Texaco’s operation of an oil consortium from 1972 to 1990 in the rain forest.

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