Peru declared this Saturday “environmental emergencyl” for 90 days to the coastal area damaged by the spill of 6,000 barrels of crude a week ago in the midst of waves caused, they claim, by a volcanic eruption in Tonga.
With this measure, the government foresees a “sustainable management of the affected territories”, with the respective “recovery and remediation work” to mitigate the pollution.
(You can also read: The environmental impact on the Peruvian coast due to an oil spill grows).
The Ministry of the Environment justified the “emergency” in which the spill “constitutes a sudden event with a significant impact on the coastal marine ecosystem of high biological diversity” as well as “a high risk to public health.”
The declaration of emergency indicates that the execution of the immediate and short-term action plan is in charge of the Spanish oil company Repsol, owner of the La Pampilla Refinery terminal, located in the Ventanilla district of the province of Callao, near Lima, where the disaster occurred.
The Peruvian government gave Repsol a 10-day timeline to complete all cleanup and decontamination actions. The spill occurred on Saturday, January 15, during the unloading process of the Italian-flagged ship “Mare Doricum” loaded with 965,000 barrels of crude oil.
According to the Spanish company, the spill occurred in the midst of abnormal waves caused by the volcanic eruption in Tonga. Repsol claims not to be responsible for the incident, since the Peruvian maritime authorities did not issue warnings about a possible increase in waves due to the eruption.
(You may be interested: Oil spill in Peru due to strong waves after eruption in Tonga).
Peru demanded last Wednesday that Repsol “compensate” for the damage caused by the spill of 6,000 barrels of crude oil.
-The effusion moves
According to the analysis of the authorities, the spilled oil moves with the sea current in a northerly direction.
In fact, the crude oil has already spread along the coast to more than 40 kilometers from the refinery, causing the death of various marine species and affecting 21 beaches, according to the Ministry of Health, which recommended people not to go to them because they have an “unhealthy” rating.
Likewise, the Islotes Grupo de Pescadores zone is affected, which belongs to the National Reserve of the System of Guaneras Islands, Islets and Puntas, “approximately 512 hectares”, as well as the Ancon Reserved Zone “in 1,758 hectares”.
(In photos: Tonga: the shocking images of the eruption and tsunami).
The Spanish company reported this Saturday that 2,384 cubic meters “of compromised sand” have already been removed in the clean-up operation in which more than 1,350 people participate, in the contaminated marine and terrestrial areas, including 14 beaches.
The AFP found that on Cavero beach, in Ventanilla, brigades of workers from the Ambipar company, contracted by Repsol, clean crude-impregnated rocks with cloths that absorb the hydrocarbon but not the water.
According to the oil company, 90 pieces of machinery have been used in the affected area, “including 46 heavy vehicles on land and 13 larger vessels,” as well as “7 skimmers (marine cleaning machines), 6 floating tanks, 3 recovery tanks and more than 2,500 meters of containment boom”, hoping to double the number of booms “in the coming days”.
(Also: Tonga, covered in ash and with devastated coasts after eruption and tsunami).
Repsol assures that “it is deploying all efforts to respond to the remediation of the spill.” During the week there were several protests by fishermen and residents of Ventanilla, concerned about the impossibility of developing fishing or maintaining tourist businesses such as restaurants, given the beaches closed due to the emergency.
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