A water quality emergency has been declared after two oil spills in theAmazonas 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 8000 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.
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 hiring minors in the cleaning process. The company is offering two dollars per bucket of crude oil that the residents collect.
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 andinvestigative 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.