crude_280Three years in the making, this cinéma vérité feature from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) is the story of the infamous $27 billion “Amazon Chernobyl” case. This excerpt from Crude profiles Emergildo Criollo, a Cofán indigenous community leader, and Pablo Fajardo, the plaintiff’s lead attorney, a 2007 CNN “Heroes” finalist and winner of the 2008 Goldman Environmental Prize.

In Aguinda v. Chevron-Texaco (Aguinda after Maria Aguinda, one of approximately 30,000 plaintiffs whose names are listed alphabetically), members of five indigenous groups as well as numerous non-indigenous colonial settlers in the region, allege that over the course of its operations, Texaco dumped over 18 billion gallons of toxic waste and formation water directly into streams, rivers and the jungle floor; that nearly 18 million gallons of crude oil were spilled and leaked from pipelines; that more than 235 billion cubic feet of natural gas were burned into the atmosphere; and that nearly 1000 unlined toxic waste pits were built throughout the region, an area approximately the size of the US state of Rhode Island.

The defendant, Chevron, is one of the world’s largest integrated energy companies. Headquartered in San Ramon, California, Chevron conducts business in more than 100 countries. In 2001, Texaco (the company that originally explored for oil in the Amazon region of Ecuador beginning in 1964, and operated there until 1992) merged with Chevron.

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