January 04, 2012
Source: ABC Online
A court in Ecuador has upheld a 2011 ruling requiring US oil giant Chevron to pay $US9.5 billion for environmental damage in the Amazon rainforest.
The landmark ruling for environment management costs dates back to a 1993 suit against Texaco, a firm later acquired by Chevron.
Ecuador alleges that Texaco dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon rainforest.
The top regional court in Sucumbios province, in north-eastern Ecuador, fully upheld the February 2011 ruling against Chevron of $US8.6 billion ($8.3 billion) with an additional 10 per cent for environment management costs, a judicial source said.
The original ruling also ordered Chevron "to publicly apologise to the victims" or pay twice the stated amount.
Chevron, the second-largest energy company in the United States, has not apologised.
In the south-western city of Guayaquil, Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa said he was satisfied by the ruling.
"I believe justice has been done - the damage that Chevron did in the Amazon basin region is undeniable," Mr Correa said.
'Corrupt and fraudulent'
In a statement, Chevron lashed out at the ruling.
The decision was "another glaring example of the politicisation and corruption of Ecuador's judiciary that has plagued this fraudulent case from the start," Chevron said.
The company attacked the judgment as "illegitimate" and "procured through a corrupt and fraudulent scheme".
Chevron "does not believe that the Ecuador ruling is enforceable in any court that observes the rule of law. The company will continue to seek to hold accountable the perpetrators of this fraud."
The firm said it was also attempting to prevent enforcement of the ruling at an international tribunal and in US courts.
The lawsuit on behalf of Ecuadoran Amazon communities was originally filed in New York in 1993.
Separately, some of the original plaintiffs also are appealing, claiming that the amount Chevron was ordered to pay was insufficient.
Chevron has long claimed the Ecuadoran legal process was tainted.