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'Wean us off black gold'

Film raises concerns of oil impact

September 29, 2010
DUDLEY — Our culture's oil addiction and the influence of big corporations makes Frank Tessier of Charlton "shudder at what younger people will face, what [life] will be like 50 years from now."

When asked how often he thinks about that, he responds, with a slight laugh, "Every day. We're concerned."

"We're in our seventies and have read all the environmental impact brought about by overpopulation, [yet] technological improvements push environmental issues to the back burner," he said. "… Naturalists are saying we're approaching the place where [the ecosystem] is broken, and may not sustain life as we know it."

That reaction was partly sparked by watching last Monday's installment of the Nichols College Fischer Institute's ongoing cultural events series, the film "Crude: The Real Price of Oil." Focused on an ongoing legal battle in Ecuador, the documentary explores the long-term health and ecological effects of oil drilling on 30,000 villagers and the way Chevron-Texaco has been using the country's judicial system to drag out the case.

The plaintiffs argue the firm's 1996 "remediation" program — by which the company supposedly cleaned up hundreds of areas of oil contamination in the village of San Carlos and elsewhere — was "fraudulent," and that Texaco simply covered many of the areas with dirt without removing the oil. The corporation, by contrast, argues it got Ecuadorian government sign-off on the work and that the problem is really the responsibility of the country's national oil firm, PetroEcuador.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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