Between 1972 and 1992, Texaco and Petroecuador extracted over 1.4 billion barrels of oil from the Ecuadorian Amazon. As operator, Texaco designed, built and managed all exploration, extraction and transportation facilities.
During this time, an estimated 19 million gallons of oil were spilled from the trans-Ecuadorian pipeline, more than the Exxon Valdez. Texaco also systematically dumped an estimated 18.5 billion gallons of toxic wastewaters into open, unlined pits, waterways and wetlands. It was standard practice in the U.S. to re-inject such waters into the ground.
In 1998, Texaco completed a limited cleanup of 156 of the 627 unlined toxic waste pits through an agreement with the Ecuadorian government. Texaco and Petroecuador paid for and oversaw an environmental audit by an “independent” consultancy for whom full payment depended upon Texaco and Petroecuador’s acceptance of their final report and environmental management plan.
Evidence has emerged challenging the adequacy of cleanup:
A 10/03 study by Petroecuador and Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia tested soil and water samples from 323 wells and 627 waste pools left over in camps operated by Texaco. It found hydrocarbon contamination exceeding levels set by Ecuadorian environmental law, and revealed severe hydrocarbon contamination of five large wetland areas next to Texaco facilities.Waste pits designated “clean” contained hydrocarbon levels 50-500 times those permitted in the U.S.Groundwater contamination was not remediated.Findings on the contamination’s devastating health impacts on neighboring communities include:
A 1994 study conducted by Ecuador’s Center for Economic and Social Rights found that drinking, bathing and fishing water samples near contamination sites contained levels of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) 10-1,000 times greater than those considered acceptable by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the Petroecuador study, exposure to and consumption of the contaminated waters has led to numerous types of infections and cancers.A 1999 study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Ecuadorian health authorities found eight types of cancer in San Carlos, a community near former Texaco wells, far exceeding historical incidence rates.A 2004 study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health found that children under 15 are three times more likely to contract leukemia in the area where Texaco operated than in other Amazonian provinces. The risk of cancer is highest among children younger than four.RESOLVED: The shareholders request that the Board of Directors prepare a report on new initiatives by management to address the specific health and environmental concerns of communities affected by unremediated waste and other sources of oil-related contamination in the area where Texaco operated in Ecuador.
In our view, Texaco has a continuing ethical obligation to redress the environment and health consequences of its activities in Ecuador. Negative publicity generated by this situation damages our credibility as an environmentally responsible corporate citizen and jeopardizes our ability to compete in the global marketplace.