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Second Chevron Oil Disaster in South America: Brazil

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Brazillian government officials file $11 billion lawsuit against Chevron for oil spill
Thursday, December 15, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO--Chevron's oil spill off the coast of Brazil, which is the company's second major environmental disaster in South America, highlights a disturbing pattern of negligence and gross corporate misconduct in key oil-producing nations in Latin America. In Ecuador, the company is also responsible for a catastrophic oil disaster in the Amazon that despite a court ruling the company refuses to clean up.

Brazilian prosecutors announced an $11 billion lawsuit against the oil giant Wednesday after requesting an order to permanently suspend all of the company’s future operations in the country. Chevron did not have adequate equipment or resources available to deal with the November 7 spill, which dumped 110,000 gallons of crude oil approximately 230 miles off the coast of Rio De Janeiro state.

The following is a statement from Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network, who have been working closely with Chevron-affected communities in Ecuador for more than a decade.

“The Brazil oil spill and its aftermath is Chevron’s second major conflict with a key Latin American oil-producing nation. Nineteen years ago Chevron left Ecuador without fully cleaning up its catastrophic oil disaster in the Amazon, and refuses to take responsibility for the mess, despite an $18 billion dollar judgement against them.

“Chevron’s recent oil spill off the coast of Brazil is another tragic example of the company’s negligence.  Chevron pumped $4 billion into its drilling operations in Brazil, yet had to be informed by Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, that its well was spewing into the Atlantic Ocean. Even worse, it had to borrow equipment to locate the source of the leak in an attempt to stop the flow of oil into the vulnerable marine environment.

“Oil spills are business-as-usual for Chevron. The company operates without regard for the environment or human health in communities around the world, as exposed in a report released last May titled The True Cost of Chevron.

“Just as Chevron continues to defy court orders to clean up its 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste in Ecuador, we have every reason to believe that the oil giant will use the same legal maneuvers and public relations tactics to avoid responsibility in Brazil, where it is already being accused of covering up the extent of its spill.

“Companies like Chevron are focused entirely on production and profits, and are unequipped to deal with the inevitable disasters that occur. Big Oil seems to accept that dumping toxic oil into fragile ecosystems and paying the resulting fines are a mere cost of doing their dirty business.  At least the Brazillian government has interrupted this pattern by taking substantial action against Chevron for their gross misconduct in this case.”

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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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