Rivers Run Black In Peruvian Amazon After Multiple Oil Spills – Thousands With No Fresh Water
At least two devastating oil spills have occurred in the Peruvian Amazon since January 25, 2016 spilling thousands of barrels of oil into Amazonian rivers. Peru’s national oil company is responsible yet has been unconscionably slow in responding to the disaster and providing clean water, food, and necessary health services to affected indigenous communities.
A disastrous spate of oil spills in the Peruvian Amazon have gone from bad to worse in recent days, leaving Indigenous tribes frantically trying to clean up the mess left by the nation’s state-owned oil company.
The catastrophic ruptures in Petroperu’s Northern Peruvian Pipeline occurred on January 25th and February 3rd and have threatened the water supply of nearly 10,000 indigenous people, says Amazon Watch.
On Monday, Petroperu officials confirmed to Reuters that the oil has poured into two critical Amazon River tributaries that eight Achuar tribes depend on for water. According to the news agency, these two tributaries of the Amazon River, the Chiriaco and Morona rivers, are now filled with 3,000 barrels of oil.
Critics charge that the spills continued to spread and caused far worse damage after the responsible company, Petroperu, failed to act to contain the oil released by the pipeline breakages.
A third pipeline rupture was rumored on February 19, reports Amazon Watch, but the state-owned petroleum company took to Twitter to deny those reports.
The devastating spills occurred mere months after Indigenous activists staged massive protests against Peru’s oil industry in September.
Over the weekend, local activist Marco Arana Zegarra posted horrific images of the oil’s spread in the Chiriaco tributary:
— Marco Arana Zegarra (@vozdelatierra) February 20, 2016 “Those responsible? Where are they?” Zegarra appealed.
— Marco Arana Zegarra (@vozdelatierra) February 20, 2016Waterways flow with black sludge and trees and flowers are rendered nearly unrecognizable by a thick coating of oil in video footage of the spills:
“At least this time,” observed Zegarra, “Petroperu has given Indigenous populations suits to wear for cleaning up oil.”
Por la menos esta vez Petroperú ha dado trajes a poblaciones indígenas que son empleadas para limpieza de petróleo pic.twitter.com/LwHyLvG0j1
— Marco Arana Zegarra (@vozdelatierra) February 19, 2016Petroperu president German Velasquez “denied reports the company paid children to clean up the oil,” reports the Guardian, but then he went on, perhaps damningly, to say that “he was evaluating firing four officials, including one who may have allowed children to collect the crude.”
Peru Amazon Oil Spill Cuts Off Fresh Drinking Water for Thousands
Thousands of people in the northern Peruvian jungle are facing a water-quality emergency after the rupture of two major oil pipelines owned by state oil company Petroperú. The incident spilled at least 3,000 barrels of crude oil into rivers that at least eight indigenous communities rely on for water.
If this sounds at all familiar, it’s because oil spills in the Amazon aren’t really anything new. The western Amazon has been contaminated by widespread oil pollution for decades. This was indicated by a study of pollution records by Spanish researchers in 2014, and cited more recently by Think Progress, which says there have been at least 11 oil spills in the area since 2010.
Petroperú said the first leak, which was caused by a ruptured pipeline and took three days to fix, was triggered by a landslide. The cause of the second spill is currently under investigation.
The government has declared a 90-day water quality emergency in 5 districts in the immediate area. The oil is now in the Chiriaco and Morona rivers in northwest Peru, Reuters reported OEFA, the national environmental authority, as saying. Some reports have indicated damage to an unspecified number of cacao crops, and Peruvian officials estimate that it will take a year to restore damaged wildlife.
Please send a message to Peru’s Prime Minister insisting on a comprehensive governmental response and make a donation to the Peru Amazon Oil Disaster Relief Fund.