Declaration of “environmental emergency” after oil spill in Peru

The Peruvian government on Saturday declared a 90-day “environmental emergency” for a coastal area damaged by a 6,000-barrel crude oil spill a week ago. The oil spill continues to spread and frustrate people.

Thanks to this move, “sustainable management of affected areas”, “rescue and sanitation” authorities hope to mitigate the effects of this disaster.

Peruvian beaches north of Lima were stained with oil spilled into the sea when crude oil was unloaded from a tanker at the La Pambila refinery owned by the Spanish company Repsol in the Lima region.

According to the refinery, the accident on January 15 was caused by violent eruption following a volcanic eruption in Tonga. 965,000 barrels of crude oil were loaded on a tanker called “Mer Torigum” flying with the Italian flag.

High public health risk

According to the Peruvian Ministry of Environment, the declaration of emergency is justified by the fact that the oil spill “reflects a significant impact on the coastal marine ecosystem with great biological diversity” and “high risk to public health”. . This report indicates that Repsol is responsible for implementing the immediate and short-term action plan.

For its part, Repsol considers not to be responsible for this disaster, pointing to the fact that Peruvian maritime authorities have not issued a warning about the possible consequences of the eruption in Tonga. Nevertheless, the company has sent teams and specialized equipment to combat pollution at sea and on land.

On Saturday, Repsol released a statement on the clean-up operation, saying that 1,350 people had been mobilized on the ground and would ensure that “all efforts are made to manage sanitation”, including the use of floating barriers to control pollution.

According to Peruvian officials, the oil spill is moving in a northerly direction along ocean currents, endangering flora and fauna in two protected natural areas, the National Reserve of the Islands and Archipelago “over 512 hectares” and the Ancon protected area of ​​”1758 hectares”.

Fishermen who lost their livelihood

It has already polluted 21 beaches and caused the death of marine life, while its potential economic consequences are worrying, especially as fishermen lose any livelihood and leave tourists stranded.

“It’s wildlife, our lives and our jobs are under attack!” Frustrated Rodney Vasquez, 30, captain of a small fishing boat, was questioned by the AFP, the son of a fisherman who has spent his entire life in the Ancon coast. Port. On his side, fisherman Alfredo fears it will have a lasting impact on rock fishing: he says the juveniles are “already dead, juveniles, most eat in the sea, and the coast is full of oil.”

Apart from the fishing industry, the tourism sector has also been directly affected by restaurants, parasol rental companies, tourist beach vendors … Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister Roberto Sanchez on Saturday estimated the economic loss at more than $ 50 million. All sectors are integrated, mainly fishing and tourism.

Tourist departure

“During the normal season, between January and March (summer in Peru), five million people visit the affected beaches frequently. The economic loss is enormous,” the minister said, referring to the “badly damaged tourism chain”.

In the port of Ancon, only large vessels fishing in the high seas continue to operate. But as the fish shops are empty, customers are deserted.

“Nothing sells … the smell of fish oil and people don’t buy it … they are afraid they will be poisoned by the oil spill,” said Giovana Rugal, 52, who sells fish at the entrance to Ancon Bear.

Tourists, who usually go for walks on Ancon beaches, have been replaced by crews hired by Repsol Oil Company and NGO volunteers to measure the dirty sand.

Peru demanded compensation from Repsol on Wednesday. He was given 10 days to comply with all cleaning and sanitizing measures.

Oil spill in Peru: Beginning to clean up polluted beaches

Hundreds of people on Friday continued to clean up the beaches north of Lima, Peru, which has been hit by an oil spill caused by the escalation of violence on the coast after a volcanic eruption in Tonga.

22.01.2022

hl

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