LA-Based Oil Giant’s Conduct Leads to Legal Liability in the US

LA-Based Oil Giant’s Conduct Leads to Legal Liability in the US

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John Ahni Schertow
 

From Amazon Watch – Los Angeles, CA – A report released today (link below), on the eve of Occidental Petroleum’s (Oxy) annual general meeting (AGM), reveals that the LA-based oil giant deliberately ignored industry standards and employed out-of-date practices for 30 years, resulting in severe cadmium and lead poisoning among indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon.

According to the report, based on information gathered by a team of experts in May 2006 – including a doctor, nurse, lawyers, soil scientist, agronomist, environmental engineer, and chemist – children from five Achuar communities in the Corrientes River basin of the Peruvian Amazon now have unusually high concentrations of lead and cadmium in their blood, at levels known to cause developmental problems.

Andrés Sandi Mucushua, President of the Federation of Native Communities of the Corrientes River (FECONACO), said: “My people have suffered for 35 years from Oxy’s presence. Oxy has extracted petroleum from our ancestral territory, contaminating and destroying it. We have seen our rivers, farms, and animals sicken and we have become ill and died from the contamination. We have opposed oil drilling on our territory. It is important that Oxy shareholders are told what Oxy has done and continues to do in the Peruvian Amazon.”

Published by EarthRights International (ERI), Racimos de Ungurahui, and Amazon Watch (AW), the report also alleges that Oxy flouted Peruvian law and international human rights norms. The report found:

• Oxy dumped an average of 850,000 barrels per day of toxic oil by-products directly into rivers and streams used by the Achuar for drinking, bathing, washing, and fishing – totaling approximately nine billion barrels during the 30 years of operation.

• Oxy used earthen pits, prohibited by U.S. standards, to store drilling fluids, crude oil, and crude by-products. These pits, dug directly into the ground, were open, unlined, and routinely overflowed onto the ground and into surface waters, leaching into the surrounding soil and groundwater

• Oxy violated several international rights norms – including several in the American Convention on Human Rights and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights – in its actions on Achuar territory, including the right to life, the right to health, the right to a healthy environment, and indigenous people’s rights.

• Oxy violated Peru’s General Water Law and General Health Law, as well environmental statutes meant to be applied in the hydrocarbon sector.

• As a U.S. corporation, Oxy’s disregard for the law and for the well-being of the Achuar could subject it to legal liability in the U.S. as well as in Peru.

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