Protesters on Sunday staged a mock clean up at a Chevron service station to increase awareness of the oil company's alleged intentional dumping of toxic waste in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Rainforest Action Network coordinated protests at 10 Chevron stations in the city as part of a global action day for climate solutions, Change Chevron Campaign director Maria Ramos said.
About 20 protesters converged at noon at the gas station located at 1298 Howard St. Texaco, which is now owned by Chevron, across several decades intentionally dumped 18 billion gallons of oil sludge into the Amazon rainforest in northern Ecuador, Ramos said.
The sludge contaminated rivers and streams used by indigenous people for drinking water and fishing, Ramos said. About 30,000 indigenous people have been affected, Ramos said, adding that thousands of people in the area have reported contracting cancer. A $27 billion lawsuit against Chevron for the alleged dumping in Ecuador has been in litigation for 17 years, Ramos added. "They're doing everything they can to avoid taking responsibility for that," Ramos said.
In California, Chevron opposes the Global Warming Solutions Act that established goals for the year 2020 for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Ramos said. Protesters hung large white banners from the station's fuel price sign on the corner of Howard and Ninth streets that called for Chevron to clean up in Ecuador. Many in the group wore white protective suits and danced around while mopping the pavement near gas pumps and scrubbing Chevron signs with soapy sponges.
The protests are a call for Chevron to clean up their "toxic legacy," Ramos said. Amy Baker, who was putting gas in her car a few pumps away, commended the protesters for bringing attention to Chevron's alleged actions. "Everybody who drives a car, we all are part of this," said Baker, of San Bruno. "I'm getting gas anyway. I need gas. I'm going to drive where I'm going to drive but I think the oil companies should take responsibility for when they screw up." "I'm glad these people are out here and I'm glad to have gas," Baker said. "I would not otherwise have known about it so I'm glad that they're doing this." Ramos said the campaign includes providing literature to Chevron station managers about the company's actions.
Rainforest Action Network has "been in touch" with Chevron at the corporate level, Ramos said. The manager on duty Sunday at the Chevron station said she asked the protesters to leave and was told by a participant that the group "was almost done." The manager declined to provide her name.