Where Did Those Reports Come From, Anyway?

Guess today is Dia del Ecuador at Shopfloor. The Wall Street Journal reports that the scientist who studied alleged oil contamination in Ecuador blamed on Texaco — later bought by Chevron — says he did not write the reports the plaintiffs submitted to the judiciary. From “Chevron Suit Data Questioned“:

An American scientist who provided key evidence against Chevron Corp. in a multibillion-dollar environmental lawsuit now says he didn’t write reports attributed to him that found high levels of pollution in the Ecuadorean rain forest.

In fact, the scientist, Charles Calmbacher, said that although he found some contamination at the sites he examined, it was not as serious as the reports indicated.

And …

[In] a sworn deposition last week, Mr. Calmbacher said he didn’t write the reports submitted over his signature, which said the sites were highly polluted and needed remediation.

While he did find some evidence of contamination, Mr. Calmbacher said, he didn’t determine more remediation was necessary and didn’t calculate clean-up costs.

“I concluded that I did not see significant contamination that posed immediate threat to the environment or to humans or wildlife around it,” Mr. Calmbacher said, according to a transcript provided by Chevron.

Reached for comment, Karen Hinton of the Amazon Defense Coalition, the front group for the U.S. trial lawyers, said, “Uh, um.” Or words to that effect.

UPDATE (10:05 a.m.): Here’s Chevron’s news release on the Calmbacher documents.

For purposes of repeated disclosure, this blogger went to Ecuador in June 2009 on Chevron’s dime for briefings on issues related to the litigation. Our interest preceded the trip: The Ecuador suit is representative of the kind of anti-investment litigation shakedowns promoted by a combine of U.S. trial lawyers, environmental or “consumer” activists, and uncritical media cheerleaders. The Wall Street Journal does not fall into that last category, thankfully.

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