The Peruvian government has declared an “environmental emergency” for the next 90 days. The coastal area was hit by oil pollution a week ago after 6,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the sea. The measure is intended to facilitate repair and remediation work.
An oil tanker belonging to the Spanish company Repsol was en route to La Pampilla, Peru’s largest oil refinery near the capital Lima, last Sunday. However, the submarine eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano in Tonga created huge waves. About 6,000 barrels of oil disappeared into the sea due to the rocking.
The beaches were covered with a black gunk as a result and many animals lost their lives. The Peruvian Ministry of the Environment justifies the state of emergency by pointing to the fact that the sudden oil spill “will have a significant impact on the marine ecosystem of the coast”. In addition, there is also a ‘major risk to public health’.
Peru is now demanding compensation from the Spanish oil giant to pay for the cleanup of the oil. The company will be given ten days to comply with all cleaning and remediation measures. Local authorities also accuse Repsol of not having a contingency plan.
The tanker in question, the Mare Doricum, was loaded with 965,000 barrels of crude oil. The refinery states that it bears no responsibility in this case. “There was also no warning from the Peruvian maritime authorities after the eruption in Tonga,” it said. The firm has nevertheless deployed teams and specialized equipment to combat pollution at sea and on land.
According to the Peruvian authorities, the oil slick is moving north with the currents, endangering the flora and fauna of two protected natural areas. The substance has already polluted 21 beaches. The potential economic impacts are also worrying as the pollution could potentially keep tourists away and fishermen lose their livelihood.
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