Peru accuses US oil firm of damaging environment

May 2nd, 2008 - 10:05 pm ICT by admin  

Los Angeles, May 2 (IANS) Peru’s Achuar Indian community has got a supporter in Hollywood actress Daryl Hannah in its campaign against a US oil firm, which it says has caused environmental damage to the Amazon, EFE news agency reported Friday. Hannah joined the members of the environmental group Amazon Watch and staged a protest for several hours Wednesday in front of the office of the Occidental Petroleum Corp (Oxy) here, demanding the company to take responsibility for the environmental damages it caused to the Amazon.

The protesters, some wearing hazmat suits and carrying brooms, tried to draw attention to the environmental problems faced by Indians living in the Corrientes River in the Peruvian Amazon.

The Achuar community alleges that the American company was responsible for polluting the land and rivers where they live.

The Indians contend that the oil company deliberately used antiquated technology to process the residues from its operations and illegally dumped 850,000 barrels of toxic water a day for 30 years, causing health problems among the Achuar.

Daryl Hannah, a long-time environmental activist, joined the protesters and called on Oxy management to take responsibility for the pollution of the Corrientes River area of the Amazon.

“This is the Achuar’s land. Who has the right to go there and pollute its waters and everything they live off? They have to be made responsible for that. These people are not asking for the $460 million that Oxy’s president earned last year, they only want their land cleaned up,” Hannah said.

Achuar’s effort to put Oxy on trial in the US was derailed in mid-April, prompting the plaintiffs to admit it was another obstacle, but they refused to give up the fight.

“We demand justice for the Indians, for the company to acknowledge the damage it did to indigenous lands in Corrientes,” Edgarson Reginjo, Achuar’s representative at the protest, said.

The Indian community will have to decide, with the assistance of its attorneys, whether to appeal the California court’s decision so that a trial can finally be held against Oxy in the US or take its case to the Peruvian justice system.

Oxy pulled completely out of the Andean nation in 2006 after pumping oil out of the Amazon for 30 years.

The protesters had plans to stage a demonstration Friday outside the Los Angeles hotel where Oxy was to hold its annual shareholders meeting.

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