Monday, September 20, 2010

The Numbers Are In

If there is anyone out there not realizing how extensive the devastation in the Ecuadorian rain forest is, they need to read Chevron Pit’s latest post. New damage assessments have been submitted to the Ecuador trial court and the numbers are mind blowing!
Below are some of the horrific findings. For more detailed look, visit The Chevron Pit

A mother holds her ten-month old daughter
with a skin rash caused by bathing in
oil-polluted water in Rumipamba in 1993.

• Soil Remediation: A conservative estimate of potential costs to remediate contaminated soils at all of Chevron’s 378 former oil production facilities in Ecuador ranges from $487 million to $949 million depending on the clean-up standard used. The actual cost could be significantly higher.

• Groundwater Remediation: Based on data in the trial record, the range for clean-up of groundwater is $396 million to $911 million.

• Rivers and wetlands: Data indicates that sediment contamination exists, but no clean-up number was presented pending further investigation.

• Health Care: Using recent data from the World Health Organization and the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health, an estimated $1.4 billion will be needed to provide health care to the thousands of affected persons over the next three decades.

• Drinking Water: Degradation of the environment with petroleum hydrocarbons associated with Chevron’s production activities has been documented at numerous locations. The cost of a comprehensive series of regional water systems is estimated to be between approximately $326 million to $541 million.

• Excess Cancer Deaths: Actuarial life-table methodology demonstrates that the aggregate cost of excess cancer deaths due to exposure to oil contamination in the area where Chevron operated could be approximately $69.7 billion. This is the based on the value of a statistical life used by averaging relevant data used in the U.S. court system and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ($7 million for each lost life), and comparing it with official Ecuador mortality data and census information. Up to 9,950 people in the affected area will face a significant risk of dying from cancer in the coming decades even if the area is remediated in the next ten years. Even if the analysis stops in 1990 – the year when Chevron ceased being the operator of the oil fields – the aggregate cost of excess cancer deaths is still estimated at $12.1 billion based on 1,732 deaths from cancer. (The earlier Cabrera report estimated 1,401 deaths from cancer, but he did not project future deaths.)

• Natural Resources Losses: This estimate is based on the evidence that concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons and harmful metals in soil, groundwater, and surface water have exceeded levels considered to be toxic to terrestrial and aquatic biota. While determining the exact values of service losses in the rainforest with precision is not possible, it is not clear that further studies would produce a range of plausible values different from the range posited earlier by Mr. Cabrera – approximately $874 million to $1.7 billion, depending on the methodology employed.

• Unjust Enrichment: Chevron’s unjust enrichment ranges from $4.57 billion to $9.46 billionassuming a 100% probability of detection and ultimate payment, and from $18.26 billion to $37.86 billion assuming a 25% probability of detection and ultimate payment. Given the evidence of Chevron’s malfeasance in Ecuador, the plaintiffs assume the company had at best a 25% probability of detection and ultimate payment, and therefore the unjust enrichment award should at minimum range from $18.26 billion to $37.86 billion. This is a conservative figure, as in reality it is highly unlikely that Chevron believed it had more than a 10% probability of detection and ultimate payment.

• Cultural Impacts on Indigenous Groups: Representatives of the Amazonian communities, noting the acute interdependence between indigenous groups and the rainforest ecosystem, analyzed the impact of hydrocarbon contamination on indigenous culture. The team reviewed economic valuations to repair the loss of cultural and ancestral practices, including a program to purchase unspoiled land, and to construct pools of native fishes and centers to restore flora and fauna. The cost for this restoration is estimated at $481.5 million.

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