Another oil spill in Peru’s Amazon: Ministry of Health declares emergency

A water quality emergency has been declared after two oil spills in the Amazonas and Loreto regions of Peru‘s Amazon. Two days ago the Ministry of Health declared the emergency in the districts of Morona, Manseriche, Barranca, Pastaza and Cahuapana (Loreto) as well as the Imaza district, located in the province of Bagua (Amazonas). The spills have contaminated water resources of as many as 8,500 people living in the districts reported by local news outlet reports. A vast area of cocoa fields has been affected as well.

The first breach in the pipeline occurred on January 25th in the Bagua province of Amazonas, eight miles from a creek which feeds the Morona River, a major tributary of the Amazon river. The second spill from the same pipeline began on February 3rd in the Datem del Marañon province in the neighboring Loreto state, according to statements published on Perupetros website.

Oil Spills in the Peruvian Amazon Source: www.

According to Fox News Latino, local indigenous leaders have confirmed that the oil reached the Marañon river on January 30th and the first leak was repaired by January 28th. Estimates claim up to 2,000–3,000 barrels of crude oil have been released from the pipeline.

Anibal Velasquez, the Health Minister has visited the province of Loreto to assess the situation. The Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Northern Amazon of Peru (ORPIAN-P), a regional group, have filed a complaint with the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement (OEFA), alleging that Perupetro failed to oversee the maintenance work of the pipelines and did not act quickly enough to control the leaks. A commission from OEFA traveled to the site of the spill to investigate its environmental impact and obtain water samples for analysis. Allegations against Perupetro have surfaced for allegedly hiring minors in the cleaning process. The company is offering two dollars per bucket of crude oil that the residents collect.

Oil spill in Peru‘s Amazon rainforest Marañon river Photo Credit: El Comercio / Alessandro Currarin

Rosa Maria Ortiz , Minister of Energy and Mines ( MEM ) said Petroperu will compensate the owners of the affected crop fields. The Minister of the Environment, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, has announced that the negligence of the responsible people is unacceptable and appropriate actions will be taken. He also criticized the head of Petroperu for inaction and accused him of lying in the media.

For a long time, the oil and gas industry have left deep scars in Peru. And previous attempts to hide the real scenario have surfaced with protests and investigative reports.

In 2009, protests against oil exploration in the Bagua Province of Amazonia caused 32 police deaths, 41 native deaths and more than 150 native injuries.

Illegal logging and forest clearance by oil companies now accounts for about two-thirds of Peru’s carbon pollution, according to researchers from the Carnegie Institute for Science. Five Separate spills from the pipeline were reported in 2014, when the equivalent of over 10,000 barrel of oil is said to have leaked from the pipeline. Still the Peruvian government aggressively pursues expansion of oil and gas operations in the Amazon — with devastating consequences for local indigenous peoples and the environment, as well as those very same global efforts to reduce carbon pollution.