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Oil Extraction


help stop oil extraction

Finding oil on your land used to be called “striking it rich” but for indigenous people in the Amazon living atop oil reserves, it is a nightmare. Oil exploration in the rainforest causes massive deforestation, dangerous toxins to be pumped into the environment and violence.

The money at stake for both oil companies and governments is so vast that human rights and environmental destruction are merely regrettable necessities en route to enormous profits. Yet the indigenous peoples residing on these oil-rich lands rarely reap the benefits. Oil extraction has contaminated what were previously some of the most biodiverse areas in the Amazon Basin, it has been used as an excuse to push indigenous communities off of their ancestral lands, and has made thousands of people gravely ill.  Drilling for oil also contributes to increased violence throughout the Amazon Basin.

In the earliest years of oil extraction companies frequently disposed of drilling waste directly into rivers or dug giant pits to dump their sludge. Today, these chemicals continue to poison waterways and leach into the surrounding area.

Because of intense public pressure, these actions are no longer legal but oil drilling is still killing our rainforests. Companies begin the process by exploring a section of the rainforest for oil. Even if they don’t find oil—or enough oil to drill—the initial exploration changes the rainforest. Roads are carved out of the forest to transport massive equipment, and areas are cleared in order to make way for drilling and oil camps. These newly cleared areas frequently attract illegal loggers and further invasions into previously inaccessible forests.

Once oil extraction begins, chemicals are used both to create the oil wells and to move the oil out of the well. Disposing of this waste is dangerous and complicated, and oil companies consistently ignore proper disposal methods. In addition, pipelines and wells can leak, oils spills are frequent, and heavy metals are occasionally spewed into the air throughout the extraction process.

the effects of oil drilling

Chemicals released

Cadmium, Mercury, PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) Lead, Chromate, Barite, Potassium Chloride, Nickel, and Copper

Oil Spills Are Inevitable

Pipelines Cut Through The Forest

oil extraction

  • Oils spills and accidents leach thousands of gallons of crude oil into the waterways.
  • Today 70% of river water sampled in the Peruvian Amazon exceeds the country’s limits for lead, and 20% exceeds its cadmium limits.
  • Over 20 billion gallons of toxic drilling sludge and 17 million gallons of oil have spilled into Ecuador’s Eastern Amazon region and its waterways. The situation in other Amazonian countries isn’t much better. 

oil extraction

  • Heavy metals like lead contaminate waterways and the air, putting Indigenous communities at risk.
  • Skin rashes, chronic headaches, fainting spells, vomiting, and chronic diarrhea are common for those living near oil extraction sites.
  • Long-term effects of exposure to the toxins released during oil extraction include lung disease, liver and kidney damage, birth defects, brain damage, and miscarriages.

oil extraction

  • Drilling causes deforestation as trees are felled to make roads, well pads, and camps.
  • Oil extraction adds toxic chemicals into the rainforest, especially in remote areas with little oversight by the State. 
  • Increased oil extraction brings more CO2 into our atmosphere furthering climate change. 

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