An appeals court in Ecuador upheld an $18 billion ruling against Chevron Corp. on Tuesday for oil pollution in the Amazon rain forest more than two decades ago.
The original judgment against Chevron was for $8.6 billion in damages, but was more than doubled because the company did not comply with the court’s order to issue a public apology.
The Ecuadorean plaintiffs said in a statement that the decision is based on scientific evidence presented at trial proving that waste had poisoned the water supply:
“For a second time, in a jurisdiction of its own choosing, Chevron was found guilty of widespread oil contamination in Ecuador’s Amazon…Yesterday’s ruling, based in large part on Chevron’s own evidence, once again proves that the company is responsible for deliberately dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste sludge into local streams and rivers, which thousands depend on for drinking, bathing, and fishing, and created a public health crisis in the rainforest region.”
The lawsuit deals with pollution of the rain forest by energy company Texaco, which Chevron bought in 2001.
Chevron denounced the appeals court’s decision and said it will continue to seek recourse in other courts outside Ecuador.
“Today’s decision is another glaring example of the politicization and corruption of Ecuador’s judiciary that has plagued this fraudulent case from the start,” Chevron said in a statement. “Chevron does not believe that the Ecuador ruling is enforceable in any court that observes the rule of law.”
The San Ramon, California-based company has previously alleged fraud in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs have also accused Chevron of defrauding the Ecuadorean court to hide the scale of the oil contamination.
By the time of last year’s judgment, the case had been winding its way through U.S. and Ecuadorean courts for more than 17 years.
The suit was originally filed in a New York federal court in 1993 against Texaco and dismissed three years later after the oil company argued that Ecuador was the proper venue to hear the case.
The suit was refiled in Ecuador in 2003.Though it had only 47 named plaintiffs, the lawsuit sought damages on behalf of 30,000 people for environmental contamination and illnesses that allegedly resulted from Texaco’s operation of an oil consortium from 1972.