Raiding the Rainforest

Chevron's harmful oil drilling in the Ecuador Amazon Rainforest

The Miracle of Rainforests October 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkineumann @ 8:26 pm

As this blog comes to an end, I want to emphasize how important rain forests are in everyone’s life.

Rainforests cover only 12% of the Earth but they are home to between 50 and 90% of all the worlds species. Due to the deforestation and things like oil drilling, the rate of extinction is 400 times greater than any other time in history. What does that mean exactly? An estimated 1-30 species PER DAY disappears.

“Some foods that originated in the rainforests include coffee, cocoa, many fruits and nuts, spices, rice, and other products such as rubber, gums, resins, dyes, tannins and cane. Of an estimated 75,000 edible plants found in nature, only 150 enter world commerce and only 20 (mostly domesticated cereals) stand between human society and starvation. This makes modern agriculture extremely vulnerable to pests, diseases and changes in climate. Genes from wild plants can be used to fortify modern varieties against this vulnerability. Without rainforests, this opportunity is lost, as is the chance to develop entirely new food plants.”(rainforestinfo.org)

The rainforests also regulate climate systems, by releasing moisture to the environment, which brings rain. When deforestation occurs, the water cycle is interrupted leading to temperature increases, increased droughts, and eventually deserts may form. Some experts say that as much as 19% of greenhouse gas emissions are due to deforestation practices.

25% of all modern drugs first were found in the rainforests. There is still between 75 and 99% of tropical plants that still HAVEN’T been tested for pharmaceutical benefits. That is a huge amount of potentially life saving medicines left to be discovered. 70% of all plants that have some sort of anti-tumor properties are found from the rainforest. The answers to cancer cures can be waiting there for us to find, but unless we do something to preserve and protect our rainforests, they will gone forever.

This is an account from a World Rainforest Report (#26):

“Starting with twigs from a Malaysian gum tree, researchers in 1991 isolated a compound that blocked the spread of the AIDS virus in human cells. The team sent biologists racing back to Malaysia for more samples from the tree. But when they got to the swamp, the tree was gone, it had been cut down. And no tree found since has produced the same compound.  No identical trees have been found in the immediate area and samples from the same species found elsewhere did not yield the same compound.”

50 million of the world’s 350 million indigenous people call the rainforest home. As we saw from previous posts, modern techniques can and will kill off these populations at an increasing rate. Damaging their living environment takes away their ONLY source of food, medicine and water. Unlike others, they can’t rely on trade and food from other areas. They only have themselves and what surrounds them. Because of this, they don’t even have the means to stand up for themselves! It is left in the hands of citizens who do hold the power to make a difference.

They need people like us to raise awareness to this growing issue and put a stop to the deforestation and drilling of the remaining rainforests.

This came as quite a shock to me-

Between 1981 and 1990, seventeen million hectares were destroyed each year. The same period saw the rate of tropical forest loss double. If this rate of increase in defore- station were to continue, all remaining tropical forests would be destroyed in less than thirty years. (Rainforest Information Centre, 1991).

People need to realize that raiding these rainforests for materials like oil and logs, will eventually cause the rainforests to cease to exist. Once these are gone, you can bet that human existence will soon follow. We rely on the food that comes from there, the plants and soil help strengthen existing crops so they are more resistant to disease. We need their medicine and and climate regulating properties.

 

People can see how many useful things are in the rainforest, and that’s the main reason for it’s destruction. What they don’t see is that these resources are not unlimited, they will run out, and unfortunately once they do, they will be gone forever.

 

Chevron & John Watson this starts with you – taking responsibility for the largest oil contamination in history can help restore what is left in the drilled area of Ecuador. It will save the remaining natives life, and help preserve one of the most important places on Earth. If they don’t clean up properly, the Ecuadorian Amazon area will be the next to go.

Here are some pictures of lovely, untouched rainforests. This is how the should remain!

 

We’ve got your back October 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkineumann @ 4:43 am

Several significant membersof the scientific world have spoken out against Chevron’s attack on the case.

Dr.Daniel Rourke found that as many as 9,950 people in the drilling region could be at a high risk for cancer over the next few decades. This number is assuming that the area will be effectively cleaned up in the next ten years. Dr.Rourke is a prominent American statistician. Read more here.

50 U.S scientists signed a letter in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health that attacks Chevron’s attempts to ruin the other side’s case. View the letter here.

I can’t say that I’m sure the Ecuadorians will win the case. I mean, Chevron is the 3rd largest corporation in the United States. And on the other side, some of the native tribes in the Amazon area had never been contacted by the modern world before the appearance of Chevron. Most of these people don’t speak our language, don’t use electricity, and don’t have access to televisions or computers. While they can’t even speak out to defend themselves, Chevron has the most expensive lawyers you can possibly by. They have a giant PR team to attack the opposing side.  They have money for advertisements and to get their search results to the top of the page.

So while this case may not be fair, the oil pollution is still there. No matter what the courts decide, these native people are in extreme danger. Their environment needs to be fixed until it is as safe as it can possibly be. The oil needs to be removed from pits and rivers! The stories won’t end and the damage won’t stop growing unless you do something John Watson!

This is an account by Elisa Piaguaie from Amnesty International USA

Our health has been damaged seriously by the contamination caused by Texaco. Many people in our community now have red stains on their skin and others have been vomiting and fainting. Some little children have died because their parents did not know they should not drink the river water.”

Check out this video!

And more pictures..

 

Why We Should Care October 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkineumann @ 11:37 pm

Like the members of Chevron, there is a possibility that many don’t care about this problem because it isn’t in the United States. However, this case is very important for a variety of reasons. It is important for Ecuadorians to stand up to defend their national laws which are being violated by a foreign giant’s ignorance. It is a test of law and jurisprudence: it would show that democracy is in check and that cases are tried fairly, without any special privileges for powerful economic players. The case strengthens human rights all over the world. The impact of this case will inspire other minorities to stand up for their natural rights. It also raises awareness of environmental protection which is something becoming more and more important. The Rainforests account for so much of our lives, we would most definitely not survive without them. It is the first time a Latin American country has demanded a multi-national company to adhere to their laws. If Chevron is found guilty, it will be the largest civil judgment in history. There is a lot riding on this lawsuit – human lives, the environment, the Amazon Rainforest, and political and economical effects.

 

This is one of the largest cases in history but so little people know about it! This is due to different factors: the long time span of action, Chevron’s blatant disregard to the case, and the accusations on both parts. The people whose age group was in power during the actual drilling is different from the people in power in 1992, when the first lawsuit was filed, who are different from those in power in today’s time. The lawsuit has been spread out through so many years that people eventually forget about it. I mean, the case started in the early 90’s, news stations aren’t going to cover the same story for 20 years… Chevron has consistently said that the Ecuadorians are making the whole thing up. They deny having any responsibility for another proper clean up, deny having any negative effects on the people and environment, and disregard any evidence or reports are false and biased. Both sides have been accused with dirty play and forgery. Finally, the facts are cutting through the crap and the truth is hard to deny.

 

Chevron uses their own system of taking soil samples in Ecuador than in the United States. Chevron’s reports are all lower in damage than others, because while the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) law for toxin levels in the soil are only to be as high as between 25 and 200 ppm for the U.S. and 1,000 ppm in Ecuador, Chevron reports the high limit in Ecuador to be 10,000!!! That is ten more times more toxins are allowed in Chevron’s testing than national law, and almost 100 times more than some U.S. states. No wonder they claim their reports don’t show the same findings as others. They skew the legal limits so they can report toxins as in the legal range.

 

Here is the trailer for the documentary Crude Awakenings.

Open up your eyes Chevron!

 

 

 

Shady Chevron

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkineumann @ 10:13 pm

Chevron has a special section on it’s website dedicated to the lawsuit. There is one page of background info, various reports they have filed, and press releases. They call the case meritless; claiming it has provided false evidence, corrupt operations to sway judges in Ecuador, and basically that the first clean up job was effective and done without “unreasonable risk” to people or the environment. Most of their claims include problems with the Ecuadorian court system, which as I have stated before, IS IN ECUADOR BECAUSE THEY REQUESTED THE TRIAL BE MOVED THERE FROM THE UNITED STATES TO BE MORE FAIR!!!!!

 

Chevron has gone to quite corrupt measures to cover up any wrong doings on their part. They claimed to have proof of bribery to the Ecuadorian judge in favor of the plaintiffs. Turned out they sliced and diced random footage, edited it together to make it seem like some huge scandal, when it turned out to be not real at all. And the “independent” film makers who caught the “secret” filming – One a convicted felon and drug trafficker, the other a Chevron employee who has financial interests in the company! Chevron pays for his house, car, and lawyer along with money for providing the video! That is not an uninvolved third party at all. Here is an article from the Huffington Post about the scheme. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/han-shan/chevrons-dirty-tricks-ope_b_276063.html. The New York Times reported this story and simple wrote, “No bribes were shown in the tape.”

 

Another hit to Chevron – A huge expert on Chevron’s side recently got his testimony rejected in a U.S court in a different case – leaving him very uncredible due to the many errors in his case.

 

While they have attempted every possible way to trick the public into taking their side, in the decades this has gone on, they have made no serious denial as to the amount of damage caused. And no amount of facts, reports or assumptions can amount to the emotion behind the local’s stories. I am attempting, along with MANY other groups in support of the Ecuadorians, to provide more insight to the physical damage. It doesn’t matter that Texaco already carried out a clean up. It was ineffective and sub-standard!

 

This is something you can’t deny John Watson – These are the words from several natives of their experience with the devastating effects of your company. Use any excuse you want, you are leaving these people to die.

 

“We lived in a house about 20 yards away from an oil well. Another Texaco oil well was upstream from where we got our drinking water, and the water was usually oily with a yellowish foam. I had 11 children. I lost Pedro when he was 19…. He had three cancerous tumors: in his lungs, liver, and his leg.”

-Woman from Sata

“We lived in a house about 20 yards away from an oil well. Another Texaco oil well was upstream from where we got our drinking water, and the water was usually oily with a yellowish foam. I had 11 children. I lost Pedro when he was 19…. He had three cancerous tumors: in his lungs, liver, and his leg.”

-Unidentified woman whose leg was amputated due to cancer.

The girl is 15…. She’s very sick. She was born that way, not moving with soft bones. The doctors were never able to tell me what was wrong with her. Now she can sit up, crawl, pull herself along the floor, turn over. She says “mama,” “papa,” and cries when she’s hungry or thirsty…. I have to feed her by hand.”

-Unidentified woman speaking of her daughter with birth defects.

 

Most of us cannot imagine living with cancer, birth defects, or any serious illnesses. It is amazing that these locals not only are dealing with that, but also living in extreme poverty. Their whole lives are spent working hard to survive. The more people that are affected by the waste, the less people there are to provide for their communities. This will hasten the disappearance of the natives even more then the high death rate alone.

 

The waste still devastates the people who are fortunate enough not to get a serious illness or disease. The majority of the people report skin rashes from bathing and washing in the contaminated rivers and streams. Those who drink the water report diarrhea and other stomach illnesses. This contamination is something that NO ONE can avoid! It literally affects every single member of the Ecuadorian Amazon area. And the longer the waste remains there, the more it will overflow and flow into streams and rivers, reaching farther and out to more and more other Amazonian communities!

 

The amount of waste they left is twice the amount that BP spilled in the gulf coast. Since they are in (leaking and overflowing) ditches in the ground, however, Chevron feels this is ok. Experts are claiming it’s harder and harder to refute the damages made in the case. Hopefully justice will be served for the Ecuadorians!

 

 

$27 Billion Problem

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkineumann @ 4:29 am

With the court case finally rolling, new reports that will be filed are emerging. Since there was so much drama with falsified and bias reports in the past, new studies are coming out. A highly qualified American team of experts confirmed that conservative clean up costs could be in the tens of billions of dollars. Not only this, but an official Ecuadorian census, mortality studies, and related studies estimate that by 2080, 10,000 Ecuadorians will be at risk of dying from cancer EVEN IF Chevron cleans up. So if they leave the disaster, who knows how many more are in danger.

This is the largest oil contamination disaster in the world, even bigger than the BP Gulf Spill. Some specifics on the clean up needed: Between $487 and $949 million to fix all the contaminated soil, between $396 and $911 million to clean up toxic groundwater, $1.4 billion to provide health care to thousands of people for the next 30 years, $69.7 billion for excess cancer deaths, $874 million to $1.7 billion for loss of natural resources, $4.57 billion to $9.46 billion for unjust treatment and $481.5 million to the cultural impact of native societies.

These numbers are huge! The numbers are of course researched estimates, but these are all on the low, conservative side. The actual costs will be determined by which specific techniques are used in the process. The analysis was done by respected specialists listed here: Douglas Allen who worked for 25 years as an environmental consultant in soil and groundwater contamination, Dr. Lawrence Barnthouse who is one of the nation’s leaders in economical risk assessment and a Fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of science, Carlos Emilio Picone, a medical doctor certified in critical care medicine and Chief of the Pulmonary section At Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington D.C, Jonathan Shefftz a financial economist from Harvard who has performed work for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, and Dr. Robert Scardina a civil and environmental engineer and faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
(Figures and names thanks to ChevronToxico)

I am writing the specific numbers and people for a reason. The experts are highly credible United States professionals, not some random, suspicious team. The damage estimates are HUGE; I want to stress how big of a problem this actually is and how much damage has been done to the region.

 

Damage Claims October 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkineumann @ 10:25 pm

Clearly, there is a leftover mess from Texaco’s drilling. What exactly do the Ecuadorians want justice for? The following figures come from the ChevronToxico campaign website. The construction of hundreds of open-air unlined toxic waste pits with crude oil and oil wastes on the forest floor. These pits leak into surround soil and overflow in the rain, leading into streams and rivers. US laws require some sort of lining which the waste can’t seep through, such as cement. Not in Ecuador however, they aren’t lined with ANYTHING. Animals fall into these pits and die, depleting the life that native life on. The release of contaminants through gas flaring, burning and spreading oil on roads also occurred. This is an account from a native living near an oil field.

 

“Some of the oil wells here have flares that burn off gas. The smoke rises, and when the rains come, black rain with a rusty smell falls back to earth, contaminating the land and the water.”

 

18 billion gallons of toxic waste water, which they call produced water, dumped into streams and rivers. This is another account of an indigenous man living close to an oil field:

 

“The stream was 50 meters from our house and chemicals were dumped into it. Oh, it stank! The water ran like a natural stream, but it was warm toxic waste water. We had headaches, dizziness, stomachaches…. Our children loved to fish and swim in the river. They came home covered in crude. We fried the fish they caught and the fish tasted like diesel.”

 

This water is brought to the service along with the oil and can then be separated from the oil. Even once separated, the water still often contains petroleum and a number of toxic heavy metals. It was warmer and saltier than sea water, causing harm to life in these waters. The dumping of produced waters are banned in most states in the US. They have a method of injecting the water way beneath the earth so that it doesn’t affect the environment. Since they were in a foreign country, Texaco just decided to dump the toxic water into natural water sources to save money.

 

This had led to rashes, illnesses, and loss of fish in the rivers near the oil sites. This leads to poverty and hunger in the native populations which depend on fish as a major source of nutrition. If their food sources run out, they have nothing else to live on.

 

To decrease dust, Texaco would line the streets with oil. Once it rains, this oil leaks into their natural water sources, one more source of contamination! These are some pictures of oil pipelines, oil cesspools, and the pumping of oil from the pits to cover the streets..

 

 

 

False Reports

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkineumann @ 4:24 am

The pending lawsuit is one of the largest and most controversial in history! It is amazing how little attention has been brought to the situation. This is mostly because of the long time span of action (the original lawsuit was filed in 1992) and because Chevron is doing everything they can do kill the lawsuit. They have been making so many statements, all denying any damage or reason for paying damage. In 1993, Texaco before being owned by Chevron, argued that the case would not be fair in the United States and that it should be moved to Ecuador. A judge agreed. Now fast forward to 2001, Chevron-Texaco started a PR campaign to convince people the new trial wouldn’t be fair because the Ecuadorian court system is flawed and corrupt.

 

Ok, well I personally know nothing about lawsuits and legal proceedings, I do know that this makes absolutely no sense on Chevron’s part. It seems like they don’t want the case to be tried anywhere. After all, they have made many accusations against the Plaintiffs’ case. Chevron argued that the reports the natives brought to court against damage are falsified, and  that the judge was bribed in favor of the Ecuadorians. The plaintiffs didn’t hesitate to fire back – two of the “independent” contractors who “recorded” the video which Chevron presented as evidence turned out to have connections to Chevron, one being a stakeholder. This makes the whole video illegal on Chevron’s behalf.

 

Many believe the outcome of the trial rests on these reports, which were of inspections done between 2004 and 2007 in the Amazonian area by experts called in by Chevron. A lot of the experts were reportedly taking samples from areas way outside of the oil drilling pools. They took samples from high raised land above the drilled sites. Other reports have shown different figures – cancer rates from 2 to 5 times higher than previous years (range depending on which type of cancer), high levels of toxic waste that has drained into the rivers, ect. The testing Chevron used actually combines many soil samples and averages the contamination. So if they have a lot of samples from areas outside the drilling pits, obviously the average is skewed way lower than individual areas directly in the oil pools. The total assessed damage cost was $27 billion dollars. While Chevron has a special section on their website to address the lawsuit and deny anything and everything they possibly could have done, others aren’t so confident. Forbes.com has an article about the case. The first line says that the judge will LIKELY call for $27 billion in damages.

 

I know I won’t go to Chevron anymore, I don’t want to contribute to their false PR campaigns that completely contradict it’s previous actions. And again John Watson – you can use any deceitful inspection reports that you want, you can’t deny the visual facts.