Oil spills routine for Chevron, groups say

Dec. 16, 2011 at 6:47 AM
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SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Oil spills in Latin America are becoming a standard part of operations for U.S. supermajor Chevron, two environmental advocacy groups said.

The Brazilian government slapped Chevron with a $27.7 million fine for an oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro last month. Chevron estimated around 2,400 barrels of oil leaked from a so-called seep line near the Frade field.

A statement from Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network said the company's legacy in Latin America highlights a pattern of negligence.

"Oil spills are business-as-usual for Chevron," the statement read.

The advocacy groups suggest Chevron is ill-equipped to handle accidents like last month's spill. It was notified by state-owned energy company Petrobras of the spill in the first place, they claim.

"Companies like Chevron are focused entirely on production and profits and are unequipped to deal with the inevitable disasters that occur," their statement read. "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."

Plaintiffs in Ecuador blame Texaco, which Chevron bought in 2001, for environmental contamination and adverse health effects tied to operations in the country's rainforests from 1972-90. Petroecuador, Texaco's partner, is to blame for the current pollution, Chevron says.

The company maintains it adequately responded to the Brazilian oil spill.

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