Last month Chevron’s lawyer Andrea Neuman deposed an environmental expert William Power. The lawyer for the Amazonian communities suing Chevron took the opportunity and cross-examined Mr. Powers. His testimony revealed some horrifying truths about Chevron’s contamination in the Ecuadorian rain forest. Below you can read a few quotes, visit Chevron in Ecuador for more details and to read how Mr. Power’s testimony sent Chevron’s lawyers into total panic.
Q: Now, when Chevron-Texaco designed its pits in the Ecuadorian Amazon, what design did it use?
Powers: Dug a hole in the dirt and deposited the drilling muds in the unlined hole.
Q: And if Chevron-Texaco was designing those pits in the United States, would it have been able to dig a pit in the – and put in the drilling muds as you described?
Q: What's the consequence of Chevron's design of its pits in the Lago Agrio concession?
Powers: Two consequences: the leeching of the chemicals into the ground, and ultimately into the ground water; and the overflow of the pits due to lack of maintenance and rain water and overflowing directly into the drainage channels surrounding that pit.
Q: And what's the basis for your conclusions concerning the Chevron-Texaco's pits?
Powers: Having viewed the pits and reviewed the nature of how those pits were designed, utilized, and the fact that – it is uncontested that the pits were left with drilling mud in them.
Q: And when Chevron developed the oil field in Ecuador, did it do so in conformity with standards for treatment of production water that were in place in the United States at the time that it was building its infrastructure in Ecuador?
Q: Can you describe the ways in which Chevron's Ecuadorian concession fell below standards it would have been required to meet if that field were in the United States?
Powers: Based on the salinity and the produced water from the field, the company would have been required to reinject that water into a subsurface formation. Could not have operated that oil field or produced a single barrel of oil without having that produced water injection system operational.
Q: By failing to reinject production water in the Lago Agrio concession, what impact did that have on the environment in Lago Agrio?
Powers: It contaminated the surface water at the points where it was injected, not only with the high salinity of the produced water in an environment that has almost no natural salinity, but the trace contaminants of heavy metals and oil also contributed to the generalized contamination of that surface water.
Q: If you include the produced water in your comparison between the discharge into the environment from Chevron's Lago Agrio concession, when you compare that to the Exxon-Valdez oil discharge from that catastrophe, how would you compare them?
Powers: Both the produced water and the crude oil are toxic. The – you can argue about the relative toxicity of them both. But the amount of toxic liquids that should not have been in the environment in Ecuador was at least 30 times the quantity or the volume of crude that was spilled in the Exxon-Valdez disaster.
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