The UN mission arrives in Peru to assess the impact of the oil spill
A technical mission of international experts arrived in Peru this Monday to make a rapid evaluation of the socio-environmental impact and advise the authorities in the management and coordination of the response to the oil spill in the town of Ventanilla, just over 20 kilometers north of Lima, the country’s capital.
The group of nine specialists on the subject was convened by the United Nations Joint Environment Unit and the UN Team for Assessment and Coordination in Disaster Cases.
The arrival of the experts coincides with the declaration of environmental emergency for 90 days that the government of Peru made with the purpose of control the discharge occurred on Saturday, January 15, when an oil tanker was unloading fuel for the La Pampilla refinery, operated by a Spanish company.
The company in question affirms that the spill occurred due to the strong waves produced by the underwater eruption of the volcano located in front of the island of Tonga, in the South Pacific, registered on the same day. The country’s authorities opened a investigation for the alleged crime of environmental pollution.
The declaration of environmental emergency covers all the areas affected by the oil spill, which at the moment affects an area of three square kilometers of coast and sea, although with the tides the disaster area is larger.
While the oil slick moves north due to the effect of sea currents, the Peruvian authorities have closed 21 beaches and reported that the affectations include 512 hectares in the Islotes de Pescadores of the National Reserve System of Islands, Islets and Guaneras Points, in addition to almost 1800 hectares in the Ancón Reserved Zone.
Presidency of Peru
The deployment of the UN mission -composed of experts from Ecuador, Spain, France, Norway, Panama and Peru-, responds to a request from the Peruvian government presented on Thursday of the previous week.
The members of the mission are specialists in pollution assessment and response to oil spills; incident management and contingency planning; marine chemistry; analysis and mapping geographic information; and humanitarian response to disasters.
The technical team will have the task of guiding the competent authorities in the management of the emergency and the containment of the spill. To do this, they will make a rapid assessment of the environmental impact and the immediate and They will identify immediate priorities, as well as medium and long-term ones to mitigate impacts.
In addition, they will provide technical advice to reduce the risk of future spill disasters of crude oil in the ocean and will develop methodological and regulatory recommendations.
The UN Resident Coordination Office in Peru will coordinate the mission led by the Joint Environment Unit and made up of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations Environment Program.