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Advocates Unfurl 50-foot Banner Message to Chevron on Richmond Bridge

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Rainforest Action Network Sends Message: “Chevron Guilty, Clean up Amazon”
Monday, May 23, 2011

CONTACTS
Nell Greenberg, Rainforest Action Network, 510.847.9777
Ginger Cassady, Rainforest Action Network, 415.640.7155

Live interviews with climbers available
Hi-res photos will be at www.ran.org/chevronguilty
B-roll will be at www.ran.org/chevronguiltybroll
Follow live at @ranactions

Richmond, CA—At 9:00 am this morning, five environmental advocates with the Rainforest Action Network descended over the edge of the bottom level of the Richmond Bridge and unfurled a 30’x50’ foot banner message directed at Chevron: “Chevron Guilty: Clean up Amazon.” Today’s protest comes two days before Chevron’s Annual Shareholder meeting at its San Ramon headquarters. It will be the first shareholder meeting since the company was found guilty of massive oil contamination in the Ecuador Amazon and ordered to pay $18 billion dollars.

Sandwiched between several Chevron oil tankers and the Richmond refinery, the climbers are hanging 100-feet above the Bay and have gone to great heights to send a strong message to Chevron’s CEO, board, and shareholders. This is the first time an event like this has happened on the Richmond Bridge.

“Chevron has been found guilty in a court of law of massive oil contamination of the Amazon. I am here to demand that the oil giant finally clean up its toxic legacy once and for all,” said Matt Leonard, one of the climbers who is a volunteer with Rainforest Action Network. “Chevron is the largest company in California, and as a California resident I see it as my responsibility to ensure that it no longer gets away with its ‘pollute and run’ tactics. If it was my family, my community that was being made sick by toxic oil waste, I would hope others would stand up for me too.”

In February, Chevron was found guilty of widespread environmental contamination by an Ecuadorian court and ordered to pay $18 billion in compensatory and punitive damages. This is a historic judgment that is comparable in size only to BP's promised $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The judgment found Chevron accountable for the deliberate dumping of 18.5 billion gallons of highly toxic waste into Amazonian ecosystems, contaminating the soil, rivers, and groundwater. Chevron has appealed the judgment.

“Chevron was found guilty because it is guilty. Instead of using its massive profits to employ lawyers, lobbyists and PR flacks to deflect its responsibility, Chevron can and should clean up this horrific environmental disaster,” said Ginger Cassady, Campaign Director for the Rainforest Action Network. “It is in the hands of Chevron’s board and shareholders to put a stop to this ongoing disaster, which has made children, families, whole communities sick for the last forty years. This has gone on for far too long.”

Today’s event comes on the heels of a report commissioned by RAN and Amazon Watch, An Analysis of the Financial and Operational Risks to Chevron Corporation from Aguinda v. ChevronTexaco, which found that Chevron's multi-billion liability in Ecuador poses serious financial and operational risk to the company and its shareholders.

Chevron inherited the litigation in 2001 when it absorbed Texaco, which operated in Ecuador between 1964 and 1992 in a concession spanning more than one million acres of rainforest near the Colombian border. Texaco designed, built, and maintained an oil production system of 327 wells. Using antiquated technology and in violation of standard industry practice, the company dumped 18.5 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into streams and rivers, spilled some 17 million gallons of crude oil, and left behind more than 1000 waste pits that continue to leech toxins into surrounding soil and water.

In an open letter released last week that appealed to U.S. citizens, Humberto Piaguaje, Tribal Leader of the Secoya of the Ecuadorian Amazon, along with other indigenous leaders, wrote: “For forty years we have witnessed illnesses, deformities, cancers in our children and our loved ones. Last February, Chevron was found guilty by an Ecuadorean court for the harm it has caused to our people, and to our land. But the company has said that it will never take responsibility for the damages it has caused us. We turn to the people of the U.S. and ask that you demand that Chevron clean up the poison it left in our Amazon home.”

Piaguaje and two other Ecuadorian representatives are currently in the Bay Area and will be attending the Chevron shareholder meeting to speak directly to the company’s board and shareholders.

The pollution in the Amazon has caused a spike in cancer rates, including mouth, stomach, and uterine cancer and childhood leukemia, as well as an abnormal number of miscarriages. In addition, children whose mothers were exposed to contaminated water have been born with birth defects.

The Amazon rainforest is the world's largest and most biodiverse tropical rainforest, covering an area larger than the continental United States. It houses one-third of the Earth's plant and animal species and produces one-fifth of all its fresh water. Nearly 400 distinct indigenous peoples depend on the Amazon rainforest for their physical and cultural survival.

For more information on Rainforest Action Network’s Chevron campaign, visit www.changechevron.org.

To view the open letter to the U.S. from the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, visit www.ran.org/standup

To view the Analysts Report mentioned in the release, visit http://chevrontoxico.com/news-and-multimedia/chevron-ecuador-risk-analysis-report.html

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Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org

 

 

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Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org

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