May 17, 2022 10:01 pm

Oil spill in Peru: environmental, social and humanitarian disaster

Ursula Pamela Garcia Meteor Mexico 4 min
Oil spill in Peru
Peru has declared an environmental emergency for 90 days in the coastal marine area damaged after the oil spill. Photography: El Peruano newspaper.

The multinational oil and coal company Repsol, based in Madrid, has various records of oil spills in various regions of Peru. 2022 has just begun and there are already reports in the Amazonas and Loreto regions, but the most recent occurred on beaches in the province of Callao has been one of the most notorious and catastrophic.

A catastrophe originating from the Tonga eruption

After the great eruption of the submarine volcano in Tonga on January 16, the tsunami reached the shores of western South America, coinciding just during the process of unloading crude oil from the Mare Dorium ship, causing a large spill.

A week after these events, the state of emergency in the region will continue for 90 days, due to the extension and consequences of the spill; with hundreds of kilometers of polluted beaches and reefs, without forgetting the death of thousands of animals such as birds, fish and crustaceans.

In the statement issued by the Minister of the Environment of Peru, Rubén Ramírez, it is stated that, “There is serious damage to biodiversity, which can even affect people’s health”. In recent days, officials and residents have shown great concern for the most harmful natural disaster in recent times on the coast of the Peruvian capital.

Collateral damage on Peruvian beaches

It is estimated that they were around 6000 barrels spilled, affecting approximately 2,000,000 m² of sea and coast of various districts of Lima, with the provinces of Callao to Pacasmayo being the most affected.

“We find uunfortunate situation and we are trying to help the animals with breathing, practice first aid, but they do not resist, they are dead, full of oil”, declared the environmental activist Virgo Gálvez, while holding a bird soaked in crude oil in his hands.

The discontent of Peruvians is evident after the environmental catastrophe in the main beaches of the country. Photography: AFP.

On the other hand, according to the Ministry of the Environment the Ocean currents have spread the fuel along the coast, affecting more than 21 beaches. Also they fishermen face catastrophe, as they are currently without work and food.

Other businesses who lived from activities linked to the beaches such as tourism and sales (restaurants, umbrella rentals, street vendors and craft shops), are being hurt financially, and for now they don’t see an imminent recovery.

Evasion of responsibilities

While the spill has been described as an “ecological catastrophe” by the Peruvian government, Repsol affirms that it had no responsibility, and the company states that it is the fault of the Peruvian maritime authorities for not issuing a tsunami warning after the eruption in Tonga.

Nobody takes responsibility, and Repsol says that the Peruvian authorities did not issue a tsunami warning after the great eruption in Tonga.

Undoubtedly, this is one more reason to promote the use of clean energy, so that the different environmental ecosystems do not have to be harmed, which are also already in a state of great stress as a result of the effects of climate change.

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