An Ecuadorean appeals court on Tuesday upheld a ruling that Chevron Corp should pay $18 billion in damages to plaintiffs who accused the U.S. oil giant of polluting the Amazon jungle and damaging their health. A judge ordered Chevron to pay $8.6 billion in environmental damages last February, but the amount was more than doubled to about $18 billion because Chevron failed to make a public apology as required by the original ruling.
Worst, Chevron's tried to fraud the Ecuador court: in December a U.S. federal judge has ordered the disclosure of documents that demonstrate Chevron used a secret lab in the United States to hide the existence of dirty soil samples taken from the company's contaminated former well sites in the Amazon. The documents also show that Chevron's scientific experts in the Ecuador trial - one of whom is a respected professor at the University of California - executed a scheme that guaranteed the company would find only clean- soil samples from contaminated well sites while all dirty - samples would be sent to a lab called NewFields, where they would not be disclosed to the court.
"We ratify the ruling of February 14 2011 in all its parts, including the sentence for moral reparation," said the ruling issued on Tuesday, which was obtained by Reuters.
Plaintiffs accused Texaco, which was bought by Chevron in 2001, of dumping oil-drilling waste in unlined pits, polluting the forest and causing illness and deaths among indigenous people. They appealed the original court ruling, claiming that more money would be needed for the cleanup.
Chevron had argued that Texaco cleaned up all waste pits for which it was responsible, and said that the Ecuadorean judge in the original case had ignored evidence of fraud on the part of the plaintiffs.