Peru: oil spill fouls rainforest communities

Some 4,000 people living in communities on the banks of the Rio Mara├▒├│n in Peru’s northeastern Loreto department have been affected by an oil spill that occurred June 19, according to Lilia Reyes, the Loreto representative for the national rights ombudsman, the Defensor├şa del Pueblo. At least six communities that have been affected by the spill, including Santa Rita de Castilla, Ollanta, and Alfonso Ugarte.

A researcher at the Loreto-based Peruvian Amazon Research Institute (IIAP), V├şctor Sotero, has said there are high levels of contamination in the river as a result of the spill. “In Santa Anita, the population provided us with samples collected on Sunday and Monday [June 20 and 21]… All of the samples analyzed in the laboratory show high contamination.”

The oil spill was a result of an accident on a ship owned by Argentine oil company Pluspetrol. Mines and Energy Minister Pedro Sánchez said the company was working on cleaning the spill. Environment Minister Antonio Brack added that whoever is found responsible will be fined for the spill. (Peruvian Times, June 29; El Comericio, June 25)

See our last posts on Peru, the struggle for the Amazon, and the politics of oil spills.

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