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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ecuador leader sides against Chevron

BusinessWeek. 21 March, 2007.
QUITO, Ecuador
Ecuador's new leftist president voiced his support for the plaintiffs in a contamination lawsuit against U.S. oil company Chevron Corp. for allegedly dumping billions of gallons of waste in the country's Amazon jungle.
In a statement Tuesday, President Rafael Correa, who took office Jan. 15, said his government supports the "affected populations" and would help the plaintiffs collect evidence against San Ramon, California-based Chevron.
"We will not allow more pillaging, neither of our environment nor of our people," Correa said in the statement, after meeting with plaintiff's attorneys, the environment minister and other officials.
The lawsuit, representing 30,000 Amazon Indians and settlers, opened in Ecuador in October 2003 after a decade of winding through U.S. courts.
It alleges that Texaco Petroleum Co. -- which merged with Chevron in 2001 -- dumped more than 18 billion gallons of oily wastewater from three decades of drilling, and demands $6 billion in damages.
Chevron has denied the allegations, saying Texaco followed Ecuadorean environmental laws and then spent $40 million on a cleanup.
Chevron's lawyer in Quito, Rodrigo Perez, said the president should not get involved in the case.
Last month, Chevron representative Jaime Varela told a news conference that the company will "at no point" settle out of court.
The case is the first time that a foreign oil company has been subjected to Ecuadorean jurisdiction for allegedly damaging the environment.

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