Monday, April 16, 2012

Ecuadorians & Environmental Groups Provide Clean Water To Rainforest Residents Chevron Ignores

Ecuadorian indigenous groups and international environmental groups are doing what Chevron has refused to do in Ecuador’s oil-ravaged rainforest – provide clear, clean drinking water to people living near contaminated soil and water left behind by the oil giant almost 20 years ago.

The new effort, called ClearWater expands upon other initiatives to ensure rainforest residents have safe, unpolluted water.

Chevron has turned its back on the rainforest and its people. The ClearWater project is not the complete solution, but it is part of one, and we praise the indigenous and environmental groups for doing what Chevron should be doing.

From 1964 to 1992, Chevron, operating under the Texaco brand, explored for oil in the Ecuador rainforest. To maximize profits, the company used substandard practices and, as a result, intentionally dumped over 16 billion gallons of toxic water into waterways, used by local people to drink, cook, and bathe.

Chevron also built over 900 huge, unlined pits to store permanently pure crude oil. The pits remain there today and continue to leech into and contaminate the underground water and soil.

In 1993, Ecuadorian indigenous groups sued Chevron for the oil contamination, but the company has fought them at every turn. Eighteen years later, an Ecuador court finally awarded the groups $18 billion in damages. An Ecuadorian appellate court upheld the judgment, allowing the Ecuadorians to enforce it.

Because Chevron has no assets in Ecuador and has refused to pay, they are preparing to enforce in other countries’ courts, where Chevron has assets.

See this video for more information about the devastation caused by Chevron’s deliberate acts.

Supported by organizations such as like Saving an Angel, Groundwork Opportunities, Rainforest Action Network, Amazon Watch and the Amazon Defense Coalition, the ClearWater project will provide sustainable clean water to more than 2,000 indigenous and farmer families across 20 villages in the oil-ravaged areas of the northeastern Ecuadorian rainforest.

Emergildo Criollo, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Chevron and supporter of the CleanWater project, said despite the ongoing legal battle, “the rivers are still poisoned, and the water tests of oil and salt. This must change. Water is the source of life. Without clean water we cannot survive.” Two of Criollo’s children died as a result of the contamination.

In early October, 2011, the ClearWater pilot project broke ground in the community of Cofan Dureno with the community-led installation of 52 rainwater catchment systems, benefitting over 300 Cofan people.

According to the ClearWater web site these systems are relatively easy to install in villages and rural town homes, and if maintained properly, can last up to 50 years. Specially designed filtered catchment units will enable families, health clinics and schools to have clean water.

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