Chevron (Texaco) seriously polluted the Ecuadorian Amazon for 25 years. Erin Brockovich defends Steven Donziger, the lawyer who defeated the oil companies in court – only to face retribution.

By Erin Brockovich, The Guardian

Most people have probably heard of Chernobyl, or the BP oil spill. You may also know about my legal battle over contaminated water in California, dramatized in the movie Erin Brockovich. Yet far fewer people have heard about what transpired in the Ecuadorian Amazon – though it’s considered by some activistsjournalists, and members of US Congress to be one of the world’s worst environmental disasters.

Oil spill cleanup; Steven Donziger fought for the victims.

What if I told you that a multinational oil company allegedly polluted the Amazon for almost three decades? And that the oil company has spent even more years refusing to accept liability? Or that a US attorney (Steven Donziger) who agreed to represent thousands of Ecuadorian villagers in a lawsuit against that oil company has lost his law license, income, spent hundreds of days under house arrest in New York, and in 2021 was sentenced to six months in prison?

From 1964 to 1990, Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, allegedly spilled more than 16m gallons of crude oil – “80 times more oil than was spilled in BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster”, according to Gizmodo – and 18bn gallons of polluted wastewater in the Amazon rainforest. The pollution allegedly contaminated the ground and waterways with toxic chemicals that the plaintiffs – mostly Indigenous people and poor farmers – say has caused cancer, miscarriages, skin conditions and birth defects. (Chevron has said that Texaco’s operations were “completely in line with the standards of the day” and told the New Yorker, in 2012, that “there is no corroborating evidence” for the health allegations.)

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