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Amazon and oil

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Introduction[edit]

In 1964 Texaco began drilling for oil in Ecuador. They continued to drill for almost 30 years, turning over the drilling operation to Petroecuador(an Ecuador oil company) in 1990. This Transition took almost two years and was finally finished in 1992. Over 26 years Texaco caused the largest oil-toxin related contamination known to this day. Due to their failure to comply with safety regulations in order to save money, the indigenous people of Ecuador are for the first time having to standing up to a huge corporation in order to compensate or fix the environmental problems. On November 3, 1993 30,000 Ecuadorians filed a lawsuit in New York against Texaco, this trial was known as Aguinda v. Texaco, and would last for the next nine years. In 1995-6 Texaco begins what they deem to be an "adequate" clean-up of their well sites that they felt were the cause of contamination. By 1998, they were released by the local government on the terms that they had remedied their damage and waste and were exempt from any further lawsuits. It would not be until 2008 that it was discovered that they had done little to fix the damage and had just filled several pits in with dirt. In October of 2001 Texaco merges with Chevron, setting up Chevron for the future lawsuits. Amazon Watch begins their campaign to help Ecuadorians gain compensation from Chevron from the left over effects of the unlined pits leaking and left-over waste. After being dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Ecuadorian government got involved and began a series of investigations taking place from August 2004 and lasting into 2006. During these investigation they found severe contamination near and around the left over sites and supposedly cleaned areas. After these investigations in May of 2008 Chevron finally acknowledges the damage in Ecuador and found that two of there lawyers that worked to get the release from the first clean-up, knowingly lied. By November 2008 the the damage assessment had come up to 27 billion to pay for things including but not limited to; groundwater contamination and increased cancer related deaths. [1] [2]

Extraction Procedures[edit]

Ponds may be constructed for collecting the toxic sludge that remains after the useful components of oil have been removed. [3] Air and water quality can be degraded by fumes from equipment and drilling operations, flaring of natural gas associated with oil extraction, sludge ponds, waste pits, and oil spills.[3]


Impacts[edit]

  • Overall, more than 30 billion gallons of toxic wastes and crude oil has been discharged into the land and waterways of the ‘‘Oriente’’ from 1964 to 1993. This compares to the 10.8 million gallons spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989. Roughly, 53 million cubic feet of ‘‘waste’’ gas are burned daily without emissions control and contaminants from the gas flares pollute the air. [4] [5]
  • Court reports indicate that out of 105 water samples brought by both sides in the case (Chevron vs Ecuador), 98% contain levels of toxins and poisons that exceed the Ecuador's lax environmental laws.

Culture[edit]

  • General human health
    • The study found that water used for drinking, washing and bathing by the residents living near oil fields showed a high concentration of oil pollutants at a level high enough to cause alarm. [6] It is believed that this led to a higher risk of adverse health effects such as;
      • self-reported skin mycosis
      • tiredness
      • itchy nose
      • sore throat
      • headache
      • red eyes
      • ear pain
      • diarrhea
      • gastritis

Symptoms significantly associated with exposure after adjustments were those expected from known toxicological effects of oil. [7]

Wildlife[edit]

  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)

They can evaporate from spilled oil and gasoline and can mix with water. The eggs and young of fish are often most at risk. [3]

  • Both peasants and indigenous people have reported that many local streams and rivers, once rich in fish now support little or no aquatic life; cattle are reported to be dying from drinking from contaminated streams and rivers. These are typically the same waters people use for drinking, cooking, and bathing. [8]
  • It is the chemistry of crude oil that causes it to gum up birds' feathers and mammals' fur, impairing their ability to insulate themselves with their feathers and bringing on fatal hypothermia. [3] [9]

Economy[edit]

  • Revenue Distrobution
    • Usually the people that live where the oil extraction took place don’t receive a fair amount of the revenue and instead are in a worse economic situation after the oil has been extracted. [3] The multinational corporation has paid the countries’ government for access to the land to extract the oil from but the countries’ government doesn’t give this money equally back to the people that live where the oil extraction took place.[3] Oil-rich developing countries such as Ecuador tend to have few environmental regulations, and existing regulations may go unenforced if a government does not want to risk losing the large sums of money associated with oil development. [3]
  • fish kills because of toxicity of oil spills into waterways

ex After the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska the Herring fishing industry has been permanently closed (#9 Black Wave Video)

Laws[edit]

  • Oil Pollution Act of 1990
    • Required that by 2015 all oil tankers in the United States waters be equipped with double hulls as a precaution against puncture. [3]
      • The oil industry has resisted many such safeguards. Ex The vessel that produced the oil spill in Prince William Sound still only had a single hull as of 2008, was renamed the Sea River Mediterranean, and still travels the world’s oceans. [3]


Unlined Pits[edit]

Texaco used unlined pits to hold oil but people disagree on whether this was an appropriate action to do in the process of oil extraction. Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees land use by oil firms, says lined pits NOT unlined pits are the standard in the industry to hold oil. But commission officials said that in Texas, such pits are used to hold mud and heavy metals temporarily, before they are re-injected into the ground or otherwise disposed of. [2]

Clean-up Technologies[edit]

  • Bioremediation
    • Bacteria doesn't consume the entire hydrocarbon molecules they attack, but instead break down complex hydrocarbon structures into simpler ones. For Example, bacterial degradation of naphthalene (one type of PAH) eventually produces the simpler products pyruvate and acetaldehyde. [3]

People and Organizations[edit]

  • Pablo Fajardo Mendoza & Luis Yanza are some of the leading lawyers for the people of Ecuador and have long been actively involved in the lawsuits.[10] Attorney Pablo Fajardo Mendoza is a 2008 Goldman Prize recipient and received the CNN Heroes Award in 2007. He has led an unprecedented community-driven legal battle against a global oil giant and what has been called one of the most catastrophic environmental disasters in human history. Mr. Fajardo Mendoza, who resides in one of the affected communities, was born the very year that Chevron Texaco started extracting oil in Ecuador. He has remained dedicated to this cause in company with Ecuadorian indigenous and farming communities. Along with the affected people, he has demanded a complete cleanup of nearly 17 million gallons of crude oil and 20 billion gallons of drilling wastewater that have contaminated thousands of hectares of the Ecuadorian Amazon forest. Mr. Fajardo Mendoza’s effort has involved substantial personal risk and is potentially the largest environmental lawsuit ever filed in the world. Despite the fact that this battle has lasted more than fifteen years, indigenous and farming communities, along with Mr. Fajardo Mendoza, are willing to keep fighting until Chevron Corporation restores the ecosystem, allowing affected communities to live a decent life.
  • Achuar
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdzHmIf4Yc4 This video spends a little time on the Achuar culture and what they are trying to do in order to prevent another oil company from coming in. This is only a snippit of the full film.
    • The site www.achuarperu.org/en/index.htm, is also part of the fight against more pollution from transnational petroleum, gas, mining and timber companies that are currently polluting the land, water, flora and fauna to such an extent that heavy metals such as lead and cadmium have been found in the water and in the blood of people in our communities.
    • They did not interact with the outside world until the 1970s and only have made contact with the outside world to protect the remaining part of their pristine environment from companies that are causing the loss of the Achuar's people resources and culture through environmental degradation. [11]
    • In March 2004, the Peruvian government approved the concession of Block 101 to Occidental Petroleum’s Peruvian subsidiary. [12] This block is contiguous to Block 64; together they total 1,698,230 hectares (16,982.3 square kilometers, an area slightly less than half the size of Switzerland). [12] This area includes the ancestral territory of five Achuar and Qechua communities.[12] The requirement that the Achuar indigenous people be duly consulted before the petroleum block was established and the exploration and production contract was signed was not met. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Energy and Mines has approved the environmental impact study for this hydrocarbon project.[12]

The government first signs an agreement or contract with the petroleum or gas company. Only then does it hold informative meetings and workshops to ask the communities if they are in agreement.[12] In the indigenous people’s view, however, before the government signs a contract, it should first consult with the indigenous communities as stipulated in International Labor Organization Convention 169. [12]

  • Ken Saro-Wiwa
    • From 1962 until his death in 1995, Ogoni activist and leader Ken Saro-Wiwa worked for fair compensation to indigenous cultures for oil extraction and environmental damage on their land.” [3] After years of persecution by the Nigerian government, Saro-Wiwa was arrested in 1994, given a trail universally regarded as a sham, and put to death by military tribunal. [3]
  • ChevronToxico
    • The Campaign for Social Justice in Ecuador. [1]
    • Has a great amount of very educational and easy to read information about the human health effects that have been caused by oil contamination in the area. [1]
  • CRUDE
    • Trailer: http://www.crudethemovie.com/trailer-and-photos/
    • Documentary about the real price of oil from a social justice and feminist point of view
    • "What makes Crude worthy of the overused term “epic” is the way the case symbolizes a host of contemporary issues associated with producing and using oil: the iron-fistedness of multinational corporations; environmental despoliation; the disappearance of indigenous cultures; and the power of celebrity and the media to influence justice.”- Liam Lacey, Toronto Globe and Mail
    • "Berlinger’s ability to connect the global dots is impressive.” - Liz Braun, Jam! Movies
  • Black Wave
    • Trailer: http://www.blackwavethefilm.com/
    • Documentary has a unique way of showing why oil spills can be so destructive in so many ways WHILE showing how the destruction can be cut in half IF humans have the WILLPOWER to change some of their patterns of behavior (including making decisions based on how they impact people rather than which decision makes the most monetary profit or is most efficient in the short-term) and some parts of the legal system
    • Effectively explains some of the ways that the oil spill could have been prevented if people had been less careless,taking the situation more seriously and been more cautious
    • Effectively explains some of the ways that the oil spill contamination could have covered less of the Alaskan environment if people had been less careless, taking the situation more seriously and been more cautious
    • Effectively explains some of the ways that the oil spill clean-up could have had less human health and negative environmental impacts if people had planned in advance, had been less careless, taking the situation more seriously and been more cautious
    • Toward the end of their judicial saga and film, Riki Ott and the fishers of Cordova ask if corporate values have trumped human rights and community values in the United States today. And they look for ways to rebuild their lives.
    • Documentary about the impacts of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill including indersectional and inderdisciplinary analysis of the cultural changes (ex loss of the ability to fish for herring), human health (life-threatening upper respiratory illness) changes, social(social capital changes: alcohol, divorce and even suicide engulfs small towns all over the Sound) changes after the environmental degradation caused by the oil spill http://www.blackwavethefilm.com/
    • Explains how the environmental degradation that occured created an economic crisis in Cordova
    • Explains how the further legitimization of corporate power and the right of corporate personhood, Environmental Justice, Economic Justice, Social Justice played out in the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
  • Riki Ott
    • Riki Ott, Bachelor's Degree in Biology, a Master's Degree in Marine Biology, a PhD degree in marine toxicology with a specialty in oil pollution, and a Ph D with a major in the School of Fisheries with emphasis on effects of heavy metals on benthic invertebrates (http://www.myspace.com/rikiott)
    • Lived through the Exxon Valdez spill, has written books (her book Sound Truth & Corporate Myth$ – The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill contains information that has been sealed by Exxon and is therefore not available for public viewing until 2030) and is determined to have a Constitutional Amendment to Abolish Corporate Personhood passed in her lifetime [13],
    • Riki Ott experienced firsthand the devastating effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and chose to do something about it. She retired from fishing, founded three nonprofit organizations to deal with lingering social and economic harm, and wrote two books about the spill. Sound Truth and Corporate Myths focuses on the hard science ecotoxicology, and the new understanding that oil is more toxic than previously thought. Not One Drop describes the soft science, the sociology of disaster trauma, and the new understanding that our legal system does not work in cases involving wealthy corporations, complex science, and class-action. Ms. Ott draws on her academic training and experience to educate, empower, and motivate students and the general public to address the climate crisis and our energy future through local solutions. Ms. Ott lives in Cordova, Alaska, the fishing community most affected by the disaster. [14]

Knocking on Your Back Door[edit]

In 2003, 39 million barrels of Ecuadorian oil flowed to California. In 2008, imports of Ecuadorian oil to California climbed to 62.5 million barrels - up more than 60 percent. To many environmentalists and politicians, oil development along the coast is a simple "not in my backyard" issue. But when we continue to consume petroleum in massive quantities from afar, we simply deflect the environmental impacts elsewhere - to places out of sight and out of mind - and often, places with less rigorous anti-pollution laws than our own. www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/sierra_summit/2009/05/

deforestation of Amazonia and Central Africa severely reduces rainfall when water is crucial for agricultural productivity in many regions[edit]

In particular, it is found that the deforestation of Amazonia and Central Africa severely reduces rainfall in the lower U.S. Midwest during the spring and summer seasons and in the upper U.S. Midwest during the winter and spring, respectively, when water is crucial for agricultural productivity in these regions As a result of the deforestation of Amazonia, the largest decrease of precipitation in continental regions outside of the Tropics is seen in North America, where this deforestation causes a decrease of rainfall in the Gulf of Mexico region, with a particularly severe impact in Texas (about 25%) during the spring and summer seasons. Deforestation of Central Africa causes a decrease of precipitation of about 5%–15% in the Great Lakes region, mostly centered in Illinois, with a peak decrease of about 35% in February. Figure 6 has locations worldwide including the United States where precipitation has either significantly decreased or increased for at least 3 months of the year as a result of deforestation of Amazonia. Section 5 explains the statistical analysis that produced these results. This is not a comprehnsive figure, it just shows a fraction of the locations to give an idea of how global the effects of deforestation in Amazonia and Central Africa are. Avissar, R. and D. Werth, 2005. Global Hydroclimatological Teleconnections Resulting from Tropical Deforestation. J. Hydromet., 6, 134-145.

More Information[edit]

These are a mix of both documentaries and articles with more information on the topic and a few different views.

  • CRUDE shows a unique perspective of the devastating cultural impacts as well as the other devastating kinds of impacts the oil has had on the region
  • Chevron Texaco Ecuador Lawsuit - Behind the Scenes

View interviews with people from Chevron and Texaco. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YMCGC-2ytE

  • The following is a informative site with current events, pictures, and a great timeline of the events that have taken place over the past few years in this case. It's a great resource and gives the reader an opportunity to become involved. www.chevron-toxico.com
  • All Access Ecuador

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=3465029n&tag=contentMain;contentBody

  • IKIAM - A trailer on Oil Exploitation throughout Ecuador's Amazon. [15]


[16]

[17]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 http://chevrontoxico.com
  2. 2.0 2.1 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/27/AR2009042703717.html
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 Brennan and Withgott
  4. Kimerling, 1991
  5. Direccio´ n General de Medio Ambiente, 1989; Jochnick et al.,1994
  6. (San Sebastia´ n,Armstrong, & Stephens, 2001b)
  7. (San Sebastia´n et al., 2001b)
  8. Kimerling, 1998
  9. http://www.ultimatecivics.com/?page_id=136: Black Wave Video
  10. http://www.goldmanprize.org/2008/centralsouthamerica
  11. http://www.achuarperu.org/en/index.htm and http://www.achuarperu.org/en/60petroleum_problems/?PHPSESSID=26f0e91fbfc3a7a7ffa98970d99a77bb)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 (www.achuarperu.org/en/index.htm)
  13. (www.ultimatecivics.com/)
  14. www.rikiott.com
  15. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCUl38SOk1I
  16. San Sebastián, Miguel, and Anna Karin Hurtig "Oil development and health in the Amazon basin of Ecuador: the popular epidemiology process." Social Science & Medicine 60.4 (2005): 799-807. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 4 Nov. 2009. peer-reviewed
  17. Van Schaick, Alex "ECUADOR: Oil Strike in the Amazon." NACLA Report on the Americas 39.3 (2005): 41-42. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 4 Nov. 2009. peer-reviewed