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Ecosystems services and poverty in the Amazon and Eastern Andes

This paper investigates the actions of the Los-Angeles based company, Occidental petroleum (Oxy) which have led to contamination in the Peruvian Amazon. It particularly focuses on the human rights and environmental abuses that have resulted from Oxy’s behaviour.

The authors argue that over the course of 30 years in Achuar territory, Oxy engaged in destructive practices, contaminating ecosystems impacting upon the rights and health of locals. Under the company’s successor, Pluspetrol, human rights and environmental abuses continue unabated. Today, the Achuar live with Oxy’s legacy of harm, which consists of pollution of land and waterways, disruption of their ability to hunt and raise crops, and persistent health problems, including lead and cadmium poisoning. A series of recommendations are put forward. These include:
  • Oxy must remediate the contamination caused by its activities, including reforestation, cleaning of waterways, remediation of contaminated sediments, and removal of toxic wastes either offsite or to permanent, impermeable tank storage onsite;
  • Pluspetrol must provide financial compensation to the victims who have suffered profound harms to their physical health, the ecological integrity of their land and resources, and the damage done to their traditional culture and standard of living;
  • The Peruvian government must enforce environmental laws - oil companies operating in Peru should not be able to pollute without consequences. Peru must aggressively enforce its environmental laws and close any oil operations that threaten contamination, and must ensure that Pluspetrol makes improvements to its operations.
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    EarthRights International: http://www.earthrights.org/files/Reports/A_Legacy_of_Harm.pdf. Eldis: http://www.eldis.org/go/topics/resource-guides/environment&id=32311&type=Document