Amazon pollution victims ask New York judge to award $8bn Chevron money

Source: The Guardian

Ecuador's Secoya people, whose health was allegedly damaged by polluted water dumped by oil giant, take fight to courts

by Dominic Rushe

16 September 2011 - Victims of what they say is one the world's worst environmental disasters will on Friday ask a New York court to free up billions of dollars in compensation awarded to them in a record ruling earlier this year – and oust the judge who blocked their claim.

The $8bn fine was imposed by an Ecuadorian court in February on oil giant Chevron, on behalf of 30,000 residents of the Amazon basin whose health and environment were allegedly damaged by chemical-laden waste water dumped by Texaco's operations from 1972 to 1990. Chevron bought Texaco in 2001.

Chevron has attacked the judgment as a "fraud." The company has claimed the entire case is an extortion scheme. In March, Chevron secured an injunction from judge Lewis Kaplan against the decision, ahead of a trial set for November.

Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson said the Ecuadorians were guilty of "shocking levels of misconduct." He said: "The fraud that has been uncovered is undeniable."

Humberto Piaguaje, one of the plaintiffs, and a leader of the indigenous Secoya people of Ecuador's northern Amazon rainforest, said: "Chevron is the one that's the criminal here. They came to our lands, they destroyed our lives, our culture and left us in poverty."

For the complete article, please see The Guardian.