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Petroecuador guilty of environmental damage, Orellana, Ecuador


Angel Najera was a peasant from the community of San Francisco in the parish of Ines Arango in the Amazonian province of Orellana. This area has a long-standing record of oil exploitation and contamination. Since Texacos withdrawal in 1990, the state-owned company Petroecuador has been operating in this area. In 2005 and 2006 there were several huge oil spills which affected the area as well as surrounded water sources. As a consequence of this long-standing trajectory of environmental contamination and exposition to toxic substances, Arangos family suffered many health problems. Moreover, part of his livestock died because of drinking polluted water. Facing this situation a formal complain went to the National Direction of Environmental Protection which concluded that Najeras property was seriously contaminated and called on Petroecuador to proceed with remediation works. Yet, Petroecuador did not clean up the area, only paid 3000 USD in compensatin. In response, Najera filed a lawsuit against Petroecuador which went to the Constitutional Court who ruled in his favour (court decision written by Nina Pacari).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Petroecuador guilty of environmental damage, Orellana, Ecuador
State or province:Francisco de Orellana
Location of conflict:Ines Arango
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2005
Company names or state enterprises:Petroecuador from Ecuador
Petrocomercial from Ecuador
Relevant government actors:National Direction of Environmental Protection (DINAPA)., Ministry of Non-Renewable Natural Resources
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Fundacion Regional de Asesora en Derechos Humanos-Inredh (Regional Human Rights Advisory Foundation), Accion Ecologica
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Development of alternatives:The Chevron Texaco case in Ecuador is well known, but there are also many complaints against Petroecuador and other companies. This case is an important precedent.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The Court finally acknowledged the ecological and health damage because of the harsh conditions they live under.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Law on hydrocarbon

Ecuadorian Constitution

Law of Prevention and Control of Environmental Contamination

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Tribunal Constitucional Ecuador. Resolucin caso N 0535-2007-RA

Guaranda Mendoza, Wilton. Acciones judiciales por derrames de petrleo. Anlisis de casos de justicialidad ambiental. In:
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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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Meta information
Contributor:Sara Latorre
Last update08/04/2014
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