July 27, 2007
An Open Letter to Trudie Styler - Water Quality is a Problem in the Oriente, but the Cause is not Oil
Chevron applauds Ms. Styler for her advocacy to help the people of Ecuador. But we are concerned that she, like many others, is being misled by activists who are feeding her with unsubstantiated allegations and misleading representations of fact, science and the law.
Chevron is fully aware of the challenges faced by the residents of this region and is sympathetic to their plight. However, there is no credible evidence to support the allegations regarding a link between the past operations of Texaco Petroleum Company (Texpet) and health problems. In fact, there is considerable and compelling evidence showing a connection to other, non-oil related issues, including dangerous levels of human and animal waste in the water supplies, insufficient access to medical care and social services and poor infrastructure.
Past governments have failed to address these conditions, and the public sector has the obligation to solve these problems.
Here are the Facts:
Drinking Water is not contaminated with oil.
- The overwhelming body of credible scientific evidence presented to the Ecuadorian Court from two years of judicial inspections in the trial against Chevron demonstrates that the people of the Oriente region face no significant oil-related health risk from the areas remediated by Texpet.
- Greater than 99 percent of all drinking water samples tested do not contain harmful levels of oil-related chemicals, according to World Health Organization and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.
- None of the plaintiffs' own water samples contained oil-related chemicals exceeding international standards.
No Credible Support for Claims of Linking Oil and Health Concerns in the Oriente
- The plaintiffs have presented no credible scientific evidence linking health concerns to Texpet's former oil operations.
- Some of the world's leading epidemiologists and medical and scientific experts have reviewed the studies used by the plaintiffs' attorneys to support their claims and each expert independently concluded that the studies are flawed, biased and inconclusive.
Drinking water in the Oriente does contain dangerous levels of microbial contamination due to poor sanitation.
- Dangerous levels of bacterial contamination from human or animal waste were found in 90% of drinking water samples. This type of contamination is not in any way related to oil operations, but rather, insufficient sanitation infrastructure.
- Guidance from the World Health Organization states that "the potential health consequences of microbial contamination are such that its control must always be of paramount importance and must never be compromised."
- In the Oriente, access to running water, toilets, and sewer treatment is much lower than national averages. In Sucumbíos province, 96.6% of the population does not have basic services, according to Vanguardia Magazine, (April 10, 2007). Even in those areas that have drinking water systems, only 60% are chlorinated, and testing for coliforms or other microbial contaminants is rare.
- A February 13, 2007 article in El Comercio reports, "Many cantons aren't able to purify water because of the high cost and lack of infrastructure."
Chevron takes seriously the charges made against our company, and believe that in a court of law, evidence should prevail, not deception. Citizens of Ecuador, as well as the international community, deserve to know the truth about Texaco Petroleum Company's past operations, Petroecuador's current operations, the health of the people and the condition of the environment. These issues are too important for the plaintiffs' attorneys and activists' dishonesty to continue.
POINTING THE FINGER OF BLAME IN THE WRONG DIRECTION DOES NOT SOLVE THE REAL PROBLEM.
To learn more about the lawyers and activists don't want you to know, see Myths and Distortions at the Texaco Petroleum Website: http://www.texaco.com/sitelets/ecuador/en
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