ERI Wins Appeal in Case Against Occidental Petroleum for Contaminating Indigenous Achuar Communities in Peru


EarthRights International

Date of publication: 
6 December 2010

Today we won our appeal in Maynas Carijano v. Occidental Petroleum Corp., in which we represent indigenous Achuar victims of the toxic contamination of their communities in northern Peru. In April 2008, the federal district court ruled that the case should be dismissed because it should be litigated in Peru, not in the United States. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted our appeal, reversing the district court’s ruling, because it found that it was more appropriate to litigate the case in Los Angeles—where Oxy is headquartered, and where the plaintiffs had traveled to seek justice.

The lawsuit accuses Oxy of causing severe injuries by knowingly dumping a daily average of 850,000 barrels of toxic wastewater into the tropical rainforest inhabited by the indigenous Achuar people of northern Peru over a 30-year period, as well as inducing acid rain from gas flaring, and improperly storing waste in unlined pits. We allege that these outdated practices caused widespread lead and cadmium poisoning, among other serious health impacts.

In 2007, together with Amazon Watch and the Peruvian organization Racimos de Ungurahui, we published A Legacy of Harm, which describes how Oxy’s operations discharged billions of barrels of untreated wastewater into local streams, caused numerous spills and resulted in many unremediated toxic waste sites in Achuar territory, with severe health and livelihood consequences for the Achuar.