Canada's Supreme Court is currently hearing a legal case involving tens of thousands of Ecuadorean citizens and multinational oil giant Chevron.
The citizens are seeking to seize Chevron's assets in compensation for the huge damage the oil company caused in the South American country.
Below we look at some key background points on the case
- Texaco, later Chevron, has been found guilty of causing one of the world's greatest environmental disasters while drilling for oil in the Ecuadorean Amazon between 1954 and 1990.
- Contamination in the Amazon over this period is estimated to involve 80 times the amount of oil spilled in the infamous 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
- As well as polluting the waters that people use to bathe, fish and wash their clothes in, Chevron has been accused of causing over 1,000 cancer deaths through its actions.
- Chevron is also accused of overseeing a fraudulent remediation in 1995, which encouraged residents to build homes on top of and near oil pits they thought had been cleaned by the company.
- Challenging Chevron’s actions, 30,000 Ecuadoreans are engaged in private legal action to demand compensation.
- Chevron fought for years to have the case moved to Ecuador, where many have said it believed it would get a favorable outcome.
- In 2011, an independent Ecuadorean court ordered Chevron to pay billions in compensation and remediation.
- In 2013 the Ecuadorean Supreme Court ratified that ruling and set the compensation to US$ 9.5 billion.
- Chevron is accused of spending millions of dollars – more than it has paid for any clean-up – on lawyers and political lobbying in order to avoid paying. A spokesperson for Chevron famously said, “We’re going to fight this until hell freezes over. And then we’ll fight it out on the ice.”
- As Chevron no longer has any assets in Ecuador and refuses to pay, the plaintiffs are seeking to seize Chevron's assets internationally, including in Canada.