Peru – Oily beaches are deserted


Cleaning forces have evacuated vacationers following an oil spill off the coast of central Peru. More than 6,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the sea, now polluting at least 18 km2.

In the middle of the Australian summer, no one bathes on the shores of the coastal resort of Ancon, not far from the capital Lima: clean-ups have replaced vacationers as oil spills off the coast of central Peru. “High waves cause oil to come ashore at night (…) as the waves place oil on the shore, we use it to remove it from the sea and remove the sand that is concentrated in it,” he explains. AFP Martin Martinez, a voluntary charity called Amaac Peru, oversees the clean-up of the beach.

Over the past week, Peruvian beaches north of Lima have been polluted by oil spills during a desalination of crude oil from a tanker at the La Pambila refinery owned by the Spanish company Repsol. More than 6,000 barrels of crude oil have leaked into the sea, now at least 18km2.

Volunteers on the job

On the Ankan beach, which stretches for more than two kilometers, only a hundred people are now involved in clearing the area. Military personnel, staff recruited by the refinery and volunteers from Amak and other voluntary organizations are in attendance. “This is the first time I’m coming to help with a disaster like this,” said 23-year-old Estefani Garcia, wearing AFP gloves and protective clothing.

Together with other volunteers he puts the dirt sand on the big tarpaulins, which are then carried to the top of the beach, where they are then dumped into trucks in toxic waste dumps. At the same time, a mechanical shovel raises the sand wall, which prevents the already moved contaminated sand from being washed away again by the waves. “This is a problem that everyone needs help with,” pleads 26-year-old Lino Merino, who says it could take at least two weeks to clear the beach.

The refinery does not accept any responsibility

Hundreds of artisanal fishermen protested outside the gates of the refinery on Thursday, but traders at the seaside resort were angry. Australian summer vacations bring in the bulk of their income. “There were a lot of people until Sunday. There was an oil spill on Monday and no one came to take a shower after that, ”said AFP Richard Guterres, 48, who runs a snack bar near the beach.

The government has called the oil spill an “environmental disaster” and has launched a Peruvian judicial inquiry. For its part, the refinery denies responsibility for the maritime conditions, confirming that Peruvian authorities have not issued a warning to intensify the eruption due to the volcanic eruption in Tonga.

The islands of Tonga experienced a particularly powerful volcanic eruption on January 15, causing a widespread tsunami that inundated US beaches as far as Chile and Japan. In Peru, two women drowned off the coast of the north of the country due to “unusual waves,” according to the National Center for Local Emergency Response.


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