After years of legal battles in the US courts, indigenous Peruvians won a big Amazon pollution payout from Occidental Petroleum.
In 2007, the members of the indigenous Achuar tribe from the Peruvian Amazon sued Occidental Petroleum, claiming it consciously brought pollution about which caused premature deaths, birth defects and damaged the habitat.
Now, the indigenous have won an undisclosed amount from the US oil giant thanks to an out-of-court settlement, and they will use the money for health, education and nutrition projects.
In 2008, the case had been dismissed, as the federal district court stated that the case should have been heard in Peru, but the claimants successfully appealed to overturn this decision, and the US Supreme Court refused to hear the company’s arguments in 2013.
What’s remarkable about this case is that it is the first time a US company has been sued in a US court for pollution it caused in another country, so it will surely set a precedent which will be significant for the future.
Occidental Petroleum drilled for oil in one of Peru’s biggest oil concessions from 1971 to 2000, meanwhile releasing around 9bn gallons of untreated “produced waters” containing heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and arsenic into the surrounding rivers without regards for international standards.
In 2006, the indigenous seized oil wells, and forced the government and the Pluspetrol company which took over the block in 2000 to provide a remedy for the environmental damage by reinjection of the production waters; however, environment conditions haven’t improved with the new company, which is currently challenging nearly $13m in environmental fines through Peru’s courts.
The gLAWcal Team
Friday, 6 March 2015