Chevron’s greed and callousness underscore the need for revolutionary change.

Steve Donziger, who became famous for essentially being captive for years for exposing corporate human rights abuses, has shared a document leaked from Chevron, the company whose crimes he exposed.

The memo reads as follows:

Lago Agrio,
June 25th, 1980


Ing. René Buoaram

Attenion: Mr. E. K. Johnson

A study has been completed regarding the cost and necessity of eliminating possible contamination of the enviornment by the earthen pits used in the drilling, producing, and workover operations in the Oriente Region. The Study was requested in your memorandum No. 628 dated June 12, 1980.

In general, the possibility of polution by our current waste disposal into pits is very minimal when liquid levels are monitored and drains are maintained in good operating condition. It is our recommendation that the pits not be lined, filled nor fenced. Further, we recommend that the siphons continue to be used to keep the oil in the pits and the water drained from the pits.

First, the current pits are necessary for efficient and economical operation of our drilling and workover programs and for our production operations. The alternative for using our current pits, is to use steel pits at a prohibitive cost. The additional cost to transport the pits for each workover and swapping operation would also be expensive. A second alternative is to fill the old pits, dig new pits, and line the new pits. The cost to fill the old pits would be US$ 5,180 per well or US$ 1,222,480 for the 236 wells. The cost to dig new pits would be US$ 472,000. Linning the new pit would cost US$ 2,503,488. The total cost of eliminating the old pits and lining new pits would be US$ 4,197,968.

The cost of fencing the current pits would be an additional US$ 700,316. However, it has been our experience that the barbed wire used for these fences would be stolen within a very short time and render the fences useless.

The design of the current syphon system in our pits is such that the oil is retained in the pit and only water is drained from the pit. The water that is discharged from the pit is of low salinity that has little or no detrimental effect on the environment. To attest to this fact, no yellowing or dying vegetation can be found throughout this area of operation.

Therefore, it is recommended that the pits neither be fenced, lined, nor filled, and that the siphons continue to be used.

D. W. Archer

District Superintendent

Again, they’ve spent US$ 2 billion avoiding accountability for the consequences of this decision. When I say that we need to work on environmental cleanup, and on preventing pollution from the new technologies we use to replace fossil fuels, that includes stuff like this, and it includes all forms of resource extraction. This kind of careless waste “disposal” isn’t even close to being unique to the oil industry. It’s the default for everyone, everywhere, and the profit and political power gained from over a century of ruthless and irresponsible profit-seeking is being used not just to shield those most responsible from accountability, but also to prevent any change for the better, for as long as these ghouls can cling to their wealth and power.


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