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Ecuador Court Fines Chevron In Environmental Case

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Ecuador Court Fines Chevron In Environmental Case

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Ecuador Court Fines Chevron In Environmental Case

Ecuador Court Fines Chevron In Environmental Case

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A judge in Ecuador has ordered Chevron to pay $9.5 billion in damages and cleanup costs. The court ruled the oil giant was responsible for contaminating a large swath of Amazonian jungle. Chevron said it will appeal.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The judge in Ecuador has ordered the oil company Chevron to pay more than nine billion dollars in damages and other costs. It's the result of a long-running lawsuit involving pollution in the Amazon jungle. The damages are more than Exxon Mobil had to pay for the 1989 Alaska oil spill, and Chevron plans to appeal.

NPR's Juan Forero has more.

JUAN FORERO: Judge Nicolas Zambrano ruled that Chevron was liable for pollution caused by Texaco, which produced oil in Ecuador for 18 years and was acquired by Chevron in 2001. The decision was a milestone in a lawsuit that began in 1993 in a New York court and that is being watched by oil companies the world over.

Mr. PABLO FAJARDO (Attorney): (Foreign language spoken)

FORERO: It's an important step, said Pablo Fajardo, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, talking by phone from Ecuador. But he said the battle is not over.

Indeed, Chevron argues that the judgment is illegitimate and fraudulent. Its lawyers argue that the plaintiffs' lawyers have been conspiring with witnesses to present doctored evidence.

Last week, a federal judge in New York did issue a restraining order that temporarily prevents the plaintiffs from seeking Chevron's assets.

Still for some, the ruling was significant. Kevin Koenig, an environmentalist with Amazon Watch in Ecuador, has been closely following the case.

Mr. KEVIN KOENIG (Environmentalist, Amazon Watch): I think that today's verdict really sends a message to the world and to the company and its stockholders that this is real, there's finally a decision, the evidence speaks for itself.

FORERO: Juan Forero, NPR News, Bogota.

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