The Oriente Express
Native residents of the rainforests of Ecuador and Peru were dealt a blow late last week when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied their petition to reopen litigation against the oil giant ChevronTexaco for devastating their environment and exposing them to carcinogenic pollutants. The court upheld an earlier ruling, which found that two class-action lawsuits should be heard in Ecuador, rather than in the U.S. The plaintiffs say that a Texaco subsidiary dumped an estimated 30 billion gallons of toxic waste into rivers, landfills, and roads in the Oriente region of Ecuador between 1964 and 1992; the waste then flowed downstream into parts of Peru as well. They also say that Texaco’s Ecuadorian pipeline leaked large amounts of petroleum, causing both human and environmental damage. Texaco denies the allegations. No court has ever assessed the merits of the case, because it has been caught up in venue issues for nine years.