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A slap on the hand or a slap in the face?

It’s been a long battle: people of the Ecuadorean Amazon against Chevron, which is accused of dumping more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste sludge into the Amazon, leaving people sick with cancer and suffering miscarriages and birth defects. But the BBC reports that, after a lawsuit lasting nearly 20 years, a court in Ecuador has fined Chevron $8 billion for the pollution…

Technically, Texaco did the dumping—into unlined pits and rivers between 1972 and 1992, destroying large areas of rainforest—but the company merged with Chevron in 2001 and has never taken responsibility for the mess or its cleanup.

Chevron has called the ruling a “product of fraud” and plans to appeal—but one lawyer for the plaintiff also said he might consider an appeal, because the damages award is too small.

Considering the company tripled its profit in the second quarter of last year to $5.4 billion, it’s not crazy to think people in Ecuador would be entitled to at least $8 billion for 20 years’ worth of ongoing and irreparable health problems and damage to delicate ecosystems.


Image: Chevron in Ecuador