Enviro-prize irks Chevron
On Monday, two Ecuadoran activists who are demanding that the Chevron Corporation clean up a major toxic waste spill in the Amazon rainforest received the world's most prestigious environmental award. Now Chevron is mounting a public relations campaign to tell its side of the story.Skip to next paragraph
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Luis Yanza and Pablo Fajardo, two winners of the 2008 Goldman Environmental Prize, filed a class-action suit in Ecuador against Texaco, which was bought by Chevron in 2001. They claim that, between 1964 and 1990, Texaco dumped 18 billion gallons of drilling wastewater into the rainforest around Lago Agrio, a town in northwestern Ecuador, contaminating the land and threatening the health of the 30,000 Indians and peasants who live there.
Their case was bolstered in the first week of April, when an independent geological engineer recommended to the Ecuadoran judge that, if Chevron loses, the company should pay $8 billion to $16 billion in damages.
Chevron is taking steps to defend its image. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the oil giant announced over the weekend that it had hired Sam Singer, the California PR consultant who famously helped the San Francisco Zoo flip the script on their Christmas Day tiger attack. On Tuesday, Chevron took out a full-page ad in the Chronicle, calling Mr. Fajardo a "front man for a group of Ecuadorian and American trial lawyers" trying to squeeze money out of the company. That same day, the Chronicle published an op-ed by Chevron's vice president and general counsel, under the headline, "Chevron victim of a shakedown." The company also maintains a website describing how they see it.