Since the early 1970s the US oil company Occidental has been busy drilling and pumping in the Peruvian Amazon area. Throughout all this time it has also been pumping lots of money into the sweaty palms of its shareholders, much to their delight. This whole Peruvian Amazon exercise has kept the shareholders smiling, probably because they don’t live in the area. If they did, I doubt that they would be smiling as during this entire period Occidental has dumped an estimated 9 billion barrels of toxic waste into the area’s streams, rivers and land. The waste is known a “produced water” and contains, among other toxins, lead and cadmium, which has found its way into the fields, animals, fish and other foods produce of the local Achuar people. This in turn causes serious illnesses including cancers.
In 2000, Occidental, feeling the heat of complaint and the rising risk of court action, withdrew from the area handing the operation on to an Argentinean oil company, Pluspetrol, who continue in the same cavalier and criminal fashion towards the local Achuar people and their environment.
Of course Occidental and Pluspetrol are not alone in their polluting and plundering for profit. In 2005 Earthrights International won a court case in the US federal court against Unocal for similar abuses in Burma. Amazon Watch is supporting a court case against Texaco (Chevron) who are accused of poisoning the ground water, causing skin conditions and respiratory illnesses and cancers in the local population.
A report recently stated that, blatant disregard for the well being of the local population was a common feature of oil company activity in many indigenous areas around the world.
This sort of activity will continue as long as we allow the corporate world to dominate our lives in its every increasing quest for greater profit for the ever increasing greed of their shareholders. The profit motive must be eradicated from from all our activities and all production must be to see to the needs of all our people and be based on the sustainability of the planet. It is time to rid ourselves of the parasites and leeches that populate the boardrooms and those dark corridors of power where wealth is all and people are expendable.