02 Feb 2006
Court's Expert Report Confirms Safety of Sacha-53 Remediated Areas; Texaco Petroleum's Remediation Effective and in Compliance with Legal Standards of the Time
No Significant Risk to Human Health from Remediated Sites
QUITO, Ecuador, February 2, 2006 - Experts appointed by the Superior Court in Nueva Loja yesterday issued their first report from the judicial inspection of an oil-production site of the former Petroecuador-Texaco Petroleum Company (Texpet) consortium. All five experts appointed by the Court to review the technical reports submitted by the plaintiffs and Chevron have validated the findings of Chevron's technical experts and concluded that the areas remediated by Texpet pose no significant risk to human health, and that Texpet's remediation of the Sacha-53 site was effective and in accordance with legal standards of the time.
Among the highlights of the report:
- The remediated areas pose no significant oil-related public health risks and contain no harmful levels of oil-related contaminants.
- Texpet conducted an effective remediation that met the closure requirements of the Remediation Plan approved by the Government of Ecuador and Petroecuador.
- Concentrations of heavy metals in the crude oil are very low and pose no significant danger.
- Test results for nearby drinking water showed no contamination from petroleum or metals.
- Test results for drinking water showed high levels of bacterial contamination - both fecal and total. (These disease-causing bacteria, which are completely unrelated to petroleum, often result from human or animal waste associated with poor sanitation.)
- While one small and isolated area of the site requires remediation, the report acknowledges it is an area outside of the scope of Texpet's remediation program, and appears to be the result of a spill of unknown origin.
In addition to affirming the findings presented by Chevron's technical experts, the Court experts' report also recognized the flaws in the reports presented by the plaintiffs. For instance, the report notes that while the plaintiffs' expert made allegations about the danger from the use of surfactants and detergents he "could not present evidence that could define the harm in real terms to the environment and the people of the area."
Rodrigo Perez, legal representative of Texaco Petroleum Company, said: "We are gratified that the report of the Court's experts has validated the findings of the technical experts nominated by Chevron and confirmed the overwhelming body of evidence proving that the sites remediated by Texaco Petroleum pose no significant health risk."
According to Sara McMillen, Chevron's senior scientific advisor for the case, "Most importantly, this report from the Court's experts is based on objective science and analysis, and demonstrates that plaintiffs' claims are without merit. We are confident that any full and fair evaluation of the evidence will continue to support that conclusion."
The team of five court-appointed experts made their determination based on field observations and laboratory data taken from the inspection of the Sacha-53 site on September 1, 2004, as well as other evidence presented by both parties.
The Sacha-53 Court Expert report is the first of 122 such reports to be issued in the ongoing environmental suit against Chevron.
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