24 Apr 2007

Laboratory Used by Plaintiffs Experts Block Judicial Inspection for 7th Time

Clear Attempt to Obstruct Justice and Hide the Truth

Quito, Ecuador, April 24, 2007 - For the seventh time in 14 months, attorneys representing the laboratory used by plaintiffs' experts in the ongoing environmental lawsuit against Chevron have maneuvered to block the Civil Court of Pichincha from inspecting their facilities and procedures used to carry out the required analysis of water and soil samples taken from oil sites in the Oriente.

The seventh attempt by the Court to inspect the Havoc Laboratory was to have occurred today, April 24. However, on April 23, attorneys on behalf of Havoc Laboratory, aligned with the plaintiffs' attorneys' strategy to continue to obstruct justice, filed a legal motion to stop the court from carrying out the inspection. The inspection was originally ordered by the Civil Court of Pichincha in February 2006 after Chevron noted to the Superior Court of Lago Agrio that the laboratory was not properly accredited by the Ecuadorian Accreditation Organization (OAE) to perform the necessary analyses required in the environmental trial against Chevron. Chevron had advised the Superior Court of Lago Agrio that the analytical reports produced by the Havoc Laboratory appeared to be inaccurate and misleading.

"The efforts by Havoc, in alignment with plaintiffs' attorneys, to block the Court from carrying out its judicial right and responsibility is outrageous and is an insult to the Court and to the people of Ecuador," said Ricardo Reis Veiga, Managing Counsel for Chevron Latin America." The plaintiffs' lawyers and their supporters are clearly attempting to prevent the Court and the public from knowing the truth about their unqualified laboratory and the falsified and erroneous reports they have presented to the Court."

Plaintiffs' Attorneys' Repeated Attempts to Obstruct Justice

The Superior Court in Nueva Loja ordered judicial inspections of oil production sites of the former Petroecuador-Texpet Consortium to determine the environmental conditions and the effectiveness of the remediation work conducted by Texaco Petroleum Company ("Texpet") in accordance with its agreement with the government of Ecuador and Petroecuador. The order called for experts nominated by the parties to evaluate the environmental conditions at the sites by taking water and soil samples to be analyzed by a qualified laboratory and the results to be submitted to the Court.

At the start of the judicial inspection process in 2004, the plaintiffs' experts initially contracted with Catolica University in Quito for the required laboratory analysis, but subsequently switched to Havoc Laboratory in January 2005 without explanation.

Plaintiffs' attorneys and their supporters subsequently sought to block the Court from inspecting the Havoc Laboratory on six separate occasions:

  • On February 17, the Civil Judge of Pichincha, Dr. Germán González del Pozo, went to the Laboratory on the day of the officially scheduled inspection only to find its doors locked and access to the laboratory's facilities denied.
  • On March 21, 2006, Judge González returned to Havoc Laboratory to once again find its doors locked, and his access denied.
  • On March 30, 2006, when Judge González was about to leave the Court House to conduct the Inspection of Havoc Laboratory, plaintiffs' lawyers intercepted him with "a petition to desist and abstain."
  • On May 31, 2006, a few hours before the next scheduled inspection, lawyers representing Havoc, together with the plaintiffs' attorneys, presented the Judge with a petition of several hundred pages requesting the suspension of the inspection.
  • On August 28, 2006 three days before the reset inspection date the Judge requested both parties to appoint the experts for the Inspection. Havoc failed to appoint an expert, and, therefore, once again the Judge was forced to cancel the inspection.
  • The inspection was rescheduled for October 23. However, a few days prior to this date, Havoc Laboratory's legal representatives filed a Recusal Claim in an effort to remove the judge and force suspension of the Inspection.

Since the Plaintiffs have continuously blocked the inspection of the Havoc Laboratory, only one conclusion can be made: the data coming from the Plaintiffs is unsubstantiated and tainted and of no value to this case. Accordingly, this data must be discarded.

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