US oil giant Chevron on Monday rejected a court report holding it liable for 16.5 billion dollars in alleged environmental damage in Ecuador between 1964-1990, saying it owes the Ecuadoran government exactly "nothing."
Quito has sued Chevron for widespread contamination its Texaco subsidiary's oil drilling operations allegedly caused in Amazon territories in the 26 years before it was sold to Ecuador's state-run oil company Petroecuador.
Several indigenous communities also filed a class-action lawsuit against Chevron in 2003, seeking compensation for soil pollution in their Amazon homelands.
A New York court in 1990 ordered Texaco to stand trial in Ecuador on environmental charges, the first time a US oil company was told to answer to charges in a foreign country.
However, Perez said his company "owes nothing for many reasons," including a 1995-1998 cleanup it did in the territories it had previously exploited that was approved by the Ecuadoran government.
"Any pollution you find now cannot reasonably have been caused by Texaco," he added.
Chevron, Perez said, "owes not a single penny" in Ecuador and "is not willing to give in," calling the Supreme Court-commissioned report "illegal and unfair."
The Quito-based Amazon Defense Coalition said Chevron had nobody to blame but itself for the legal mess it is in, since most of the evidence compiled in the official report came from the company's own field reports in the areas it exploited.
Even though Chevron analyzed soil samples from areas where it thought there was no contamination, the coalition said in a statement, "the lab results ... produced devastating numbers" of heavy metal contamination 200-630 times the US norms.
The expert report prepared by 15 scientists supervised by Ecuador's environmental department, the coalition added, "concluded ... that approximately 428 excess deaths from cancer could be attributed to the contamination left by oil field operations."