A mission of experts from the United Nations has assured that the consequences of the Repsol oil spill in the Peruvian sea will affect the environment of the central coast for six to ten years, it indicated on Friday when presenting to the Executive its findings and recommendations regarding the disaster. environmental. The spill occurred on January 15 and already affects 112 square kilometers of sea and coastline, including two protected natural areas.
The Ministry of the Environment of Peru estimates the spill at 11,900 barrels of oil that reached the sea of the Callao region when the Italian ship Mare Doricum It discharged almost a million barrels into the four-kilometre pipeline of the La Pampilla refinery’s underwater infrastructure. Repsol points out that there were 10,396. On January 26, there was an additional leak of six to seven barrels at the same terminal. The prosecutor in charge of the environmental crime investigation arranged for an expert to review a section of the infrastructure to determine the cause of the spill, but to move it they need the pipeline to be empty. The newspaper The Republic reported that the magistrate suspended the pipeline removal procedure because 2,200 barrels of oil remained in the facilities at the end of last week.
Meanwhile, thousands of fishermen and merchants have lost their source of livelihood, and marine birds and mammals continue to die in the Callao and Lima regions. “The mission presented a preview of its report, which will be delivered to the Government this week. He showed his interest in advising the multisectoral work that is being carried out to face the problems caused by the spill,” the new Minister of the Environment, the scientist Modesto Montoya, told this newspaper.
United Nations experts estimate that 600 metric tons of crude oil affected the coast and have generated more than 40,000 metric tons of contaminated waste. The mission, made up of 11 Latin American and European specialists, prepared the evaluation with a cut-off date of February 7, and presented its findings on Friday to the Prime Minister, Aníbal Torres, five ministers and authorities of the six entities that participate in the containment of the environmental disaster , among them the Directorate of Harbor Masters and Coastguards (Navy) and the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement.
After three days of touring the area, the team described the spill as “serious”, a “level that severely tests the response capabilities of any country”, a United Nations statement then advanced. The mission identified on a map -of the Callao and Lima regions- the areas of caves, cliffs and rocks with hydrocarbons, others with emulsified foam that creates contamination on the coast, iridescence in the sea, metallic stains near the coastline, and emulsified foam between islands and the coast. Citing Repsol, he said that the cleanup of pollution has advanced by 60%.
The experts have proposed as priority actions the elaboration of a register of those affected; an incident command system -in which the State and Repsol participate-; a post-disaster needs analysis; an environmental monitoring plan; and a work and communication plan with the affected communities. In addition, the mission mentioned that the state legal framework has not allowed the state to address the emergency in a comprehensive manner, but rather has verified a fragmented, non-systematic response. The specialists stressed that each day that passes in a spill, the problems are greater and, in this particular case, it is necessary to put a greater focus on the affected population.
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In a press release released on Saturday night, the United Nations office in Peru describes that the spill has affected the coasts of five districts north of the point of the spill and 80 kilometers of coastline, and this “makes it the worst ecological disaster” in the recent history of the country. The UN adds that the impact on wildlife and natural resources has “harshly affected local communities, but not only families that live from fishing and tourism-related activities.”
In the statement, the entity urges that a comprehensive analysis of the affected population be carried out -for damages, impact due to loss of earnings, gender, age and location-, because until February 11 there was no evidence that it had been carried out. . With this evaluation, he adds, mechanisms for communication and participation of the communities in the assistance and economic recovery plans could be guaranteed.
Since the spill occurred on January 15, due to the instability and political crisis of the Government of Pedro Castillo, three Environment Ministers have already passed. On Friday, the environmental authority reported that it had imposed a first fine of $122,000 on Repsol for not having identified and reported – within the legal term – which areas were affected by the spill. Repsol’s executive director in Peru, Jaime Fernández-Cuesta, reported Friday that they will finish the cleanup in March and then move on to the environmental remediation phase. The parliamentarians asked for information on the final destination of the contaminated waste, but company executives replied that they did not have that information.
The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) also approved a statement due to the social impact of the spill and called on financial and development institutions and the international community “to cooperate with Peru to provide emergency humanitarian aid.” .
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