Unocal responds to slanted report by National Public Radio about the Yadana Project in Myanmar
On Friday, March 10, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" broadcast a segment on lawsuits filed against Unocal alleging that human rights violations have occurred in connection with the Yadana Natural Gas Pipeline Project in Myanmar (Burma), in which the company is an investor. This program gives a very one-sided and inaccurate picture of the Yadana Project.
The broadcast was poorly researched, despite our active efforts to provide factual information. Two of our employees, including John Imle, senior advisor and former vice chairman, participated in lengthy interviews with the reporter. Very little of their material was used.
Instead, the program repeats the reckless and unfounded allegations that slave labor was used to build roads and clear the right of way for the pipeline project. These allegations are absolutely false and clearly absurd to anyone familiar with the project. In reality, the pipeline was constructed by paid, voluntary workers under the direction of Totalfina, the project operator, and its contractors.
After rigorous and impartial scrutiny, which included the review of thousands of pages of documents and many hours of depositions, the judge in this case stated in open court that he had not seen any evidence indicating that any of the plaintiffs had actually worked on the Yadana pipeline, let alone been forced to do so. This was part of the court record available to NPR.
The U.S. State Department wrote, in its 1996 Human Rights Report for Burma, that "during 1996 there were repeated allegations that forced labor was used on a project to build a pipeline across the Tenasserim Region. The preponderance of the evidence indicates that the pipeline project has paid its workers at least a market wage."
Through employment opportunities, job training, and a variety of socioeconomic programs, the Yadana Project has measurably improved the quality of life of the 40,000 people who live in the pipeline region. We are proud of our investment in this project and the tangible benefits it is providing to thousands people in this impoverished and long-isolated country.
For more information about the Yadana Project, visit the Unocal in Myanmar web site.
Updated: March 2000