2019 Update on Quimi and Tundayme Tailings dams in Ecuador

11 October 2019; written David Dene and the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature of Ecuador.

Engineer Steve Emerman’s expert report on the two Tailings dams under construction at the Mirador Mine in the Cordillera Del Cóndor has brought to our attention what could possibly constitute one of the greatest threats upon the sacred headwaters of the Amazon.

In brief, two tailings dams are under construction.

 The Quimi dam (63 meters high) is being built in a manner described in engineering terms as critical, or in other words: on the edge of collapse.

The Tundayme dam will be the highest tailings dam in the world (270 meters high). It is being built in a manner which will lead to inevitable collapse.

The following schematics visually demonstrate the dangerous building angle / techniques, being used by Ecuacorriente S.A., or ECSA as it is known in Quito.

Quimi Tailings dam with present angle of construction of 1 meter vertical to 1 meter horizontal — on ‘critical’ edge of collapse in engineering terms

The schematics show the angle of construction which is too steep in both cases.

Taking into consideration the seismic activity and extreme rainfall in the area and the upstream construction where the tailings themselves act as part of the dam, we have, in Mr. Emerman’s words, a scenario of inevitable collapse.

Tundayme dam schematic, already under construction, and projected to be the highest tailings dam in the world, using 1 meter vertical to 1.5 meters horizontal construction — whereas 1 meter vertical to 2 meters horizontal represents European standards of construction

Upstream construction has been declared illegal in Chile and in Brazil.

Upstream construction is primarily appropriate in semi-arid zones without seismic activity. If these tailings dam are constructed, they will in all probability collapse.

Two important reasons contribute to this future possible scenario. One is the seismic activity already recorded and present in Ecuador. This worst scenario indicates a 350 kilometer area of the sacred headwaters of the Amazon will be inundated by a tsunami  of tailings with toxic materials, which will irredeemably kill and bury all life under poisonous mud.

Another consideration remains the heavy rainfall in the area, which will produce a “run off” from these dead river valleys. This may flow across borders and pollute the River Amazon with heavy metals, cyanide, mercury, arsenic and sulphuric acid, causing slow cancerous bio-accumulation in all species, including human.

To illustrate the proper angle for the 63 meter high Quimi Tailings dam, a vertical 1 meter to 2 meter horizontal slope should be used to ensure the more safe angle to keep the toxic materials enclosed

The Confederations and NGOs involved in the Initiative to protect these sacred headwaters have a need to know and understand the seriousness of this threat.

We have a case pending in the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court in which the court will have to define the precautionary principle as described in the Constitutional Rights of Nature of Ecuador.

Simply put: Nature has a right to life.

If these dams are built Nature will die.

We are asking for an injunction by the highest Court in Ecuador, in order to stop the building of these dams and review building techniques, in order to build with the highest safety standards commensurate with the Canadian Dam Association’s category of risk from these dams, risk to humans and the environment.

At present, the risk is categorized as extreme.

It is logical and responsible when faced with EXTREME risk to employ extreme caution in building constructions to ensure absolute safety in perpetuity.

It will be beneficial for the rights of Nature, if all people working for the protection of the sacred waters of the Amazon become aware of this: one of the greatest threats that the Amazon has ever faced.  It will be beneficial to have all available support in this case, especially from Indigenous Confederations whose mandate is the protection of the sacred headwaters of the Amazon.

This could be a strong pressure on the administration to care for Nature.

Author: David Dene; reprinted with express permission.

UDAPT Tells Story of Battle for Justice on New Website

UDAPT Tells Story of Battle for Justice on New Website

One of the biggest oil spills in the history of our planet happened in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, contaminating an area of almost 5 000 square km. They seek justice in, what is called in legalese, “reparations.”

The word reparations mean money. They need this money not to enrich themselves, but to build health care facilities and programs for their people. And their lands with contaminated oil pits need to be further cleaned up, a monumental challenge and task.

The affected communities and peasants have united themselves in the UDAPT organization. For 25 years they have been seeking this type of justice for their peoples through the courts.

UDAPT needs as much help as possible, especially social media attention and money for their worthy cause.

That’s why they developed a new website. On the new UDAPT website you can read about the people involved, the effects on the communities, the programs they have developed so far, and the long legal battle for justice.

How You Can Help Online

Read more about the case on the case page. Or on social media. Check out UDAPT on Twitter, and The Facebook of UDAPT.  Likes and re-posts are very much appreciated.

Frequently Used Hashtags (#):

If you want to share the message of UDAPT, please use the following hashtags:

#UDAPT #LifeWithoutContamination #StopCorporateImpunity #StopChevronImpunity #LaLuchaContinua #ChevronCulpable #ChevronCleanUp #ChevronToxico #tratadovinculante

If you use these, we can find your help, like and/or re-post it!

Why do you want to share or donate?

This Case Is About Human Environmental Rights for All of Us

This case also deals with human rights versus corporate interests. It is about corporations learning to conduct social enterprise: the cost of doing business in larger terms of just taking from the earth and changing it into money.

The facts of this case: in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, the oil company Chevron-Texaco left a contaminated mess behind the size of 1 850 square miles (4 800 sq.km). From 1964 – 1990, Chevron-Texaco used inadequate and obsolete oil extraction methods, and ended up dumping toxic waste and crude oil into pits in the jungle.

When they left the area, the local communities stayed behind with contaminated water and oil pits. Nobody in the communities knew the oil would be so bad for their health. Children played in the waters, not knowing the effects long-term. This led to much higher disease rates and even deaths in their communities.

United in UDAPT

Six indigenous nationalities and 80 peasant communities, who had lived and live in these contaminated areas, began the nonprofit organization called UDAPT (Union of People Affected by Texaco). In 1993, UDAPT started the first case against Chevron (then Texaco) for the damage in the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana.

The goal was to make Chevron repair the contaminated Northern Ecuadorian Amazon — the lungs of our earth — and provide health care for the people.

Chevron Refuses to Pay

In 2013, the National Court of Justice of Ecuador ordered the multinational Chevron Corporation to pay US $ 9.5 billion in order to build health care programs and restore contaminated areas.

When the case started, Chevron had promised to submit to the judgments of the Ecuadorian courts. In the end, the oil giant refused to pay for the damages.

Since then, the UDAPT-plaintiffs have had to seek enforcement of this Ecuadorian verdict in other countries, where the oil company does have assets (funding to provide healthcare and repair the damages).

Finally this year, their case has landed before the Supreme Court of Canada to seek justice, after a long struggle of appeals and arguments. The case has now achieved the status of a landmark case because of the legal issues it claims and encompasses.

It now functions as an example for other, similar cases about human environmental rights, after 25 years of litigation.

Thank you for helping, wherever, whenever.