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Experts: Safety of Texaco Remediation Confirmed

The remediated areas pose no significant oil-related public health risks and contain no harmful levels of oil-related contaminants

Experts appointed by the Superior Court in Nueva Loja, Ecuador, yesterday issued their first report from the judicial inspection of an oil-production site of the former Petroecuador-Texaco Petroleum Company (Texpet) consortium, Chevron Corp. announced in its press release.

All five experts appointed by the Court to review the technical reports submitted by the plaintiffs and Chevron have validated the findings of Chevron's technical experts. The report concluded that the areas remediated by Texpet pose no significant risk to human health, and that Texpet's remediation of the Sacha-53 site was effective and in accordance with legal standards of the time.

Among the highlights of the report:

The remediated areas pose no significant oil-related public health risks and contain no harmful levels of oil-related contaminants.
Texpet conducted an effective remediation that met the closure requirements of the Remediation Plan approved by the Government of Ecuador and Petroecuador.
Concentrations of heavy metals in the crude oil are very low and pose no significant danger.
Test results for nearby drinking water showed no contamination from petroleum or metals.
Test results for drinking water showed high levels of bacterial contamination -- both fecal and total. (These disease-causing bacteria, which are completely unrelated to petroleum, often result from human or animal waste associated with poor sanitation.)
While one small and isolated area of the site requires remediation, the report acknowledges it is an area outside of the scope of Texpet's remediation program, and appears to be the result of a spill of unknown origin.

In addition to affirming the findings presented by Chevron's technical experts, the Court experts' report also recognized the flaws in the reports presented by the plaintiffs. For instance, the report notes that while the plaintiffs' expert made allegations about the danger from the use of surfactants and detergents he "could not present evidence that could define the harm in real terms to the environment and the people of the area."

The team of five court-appointed experts made their determination based on field observations and laboratory data taken from the inspection of the Sacha-53 site on September 1, 2004, as well as other evidence presented by both parties.

The Sacha-53 Court Expert report is the first of 122 such reports to be issued in the ongoing environmental suit against Chevron.