This post from Lungs of the Earth needs to be read widely. You’ve probably heard about Amazonians in Ecuador who got polluted all to hell in the 70s by Texaco and PetroEcuador. You know, the ones who are trying to get billions of dollars out of Chevron to help pay for health care and a better cleanup. But for all the publicity of that case, there is a new environmental disaster happening in another beautiful, biodiverse corner of South America. And this time, some international attention could help stop the pollution sooner, before it gets too out of control.
An excellent story by David Gonzalez in El Nacional lays out the most glaring problem: at least two PDVSA managers refused to halt output even after the severing of a pipeline had been confirmed and a 30-meter column of oil was shooting into the air. They determined — I shit you not — that it would take too long to restart production if they shut it down.
Text message exchanges documented in a report acquired by an opposition legislator show Edgar Sifontes, Deputy Operations Manager for PDVSA’s El Furrial division, ordered employees not to shut the wells in because it would take some 20 days to get them back up and running. A second manager, Jose Marin, later refused orders from a higher-level PDVSA official to halt Jusepin’s output, citing an order by Sifontes. The result? The pipeline ruptured at 8:40 a.m., and the field was still producing as late as 3:30 in the afternoon. Who knows how much longer the oil continued spilling.
I spent a while trying to fathom what could justify such mind-boggling, reckless incompetence…