Peru: yet another spill from trans-Andean pipeline

A new spill on Peru's northern trans-Andean oil pipeline has contaminated a rainforest community—the fourth rupture from the 40-year-old pipeline this year. Villagers from the indigenous community of Uchichiangos noticed the new leak early on Aug. 10, according to a representative of the province of Condorcanqui, Amazonas region. Some 90 local residents have been affected, with 12 homes damaged by oil, and 15 hectares of yucca and other crops fouled. Parastatal PetroPerú, which runs the pipeline, has acknowledged the spill in a statement, vaguely blaming it on "third parties."

The 1,106-kilometer pipeline was closed for repairs in February after two spills leaked thousands of barrels that polluted rivers and prompted angry indigenous protests. The Energy & Mines Ministry said in June that the third spill occurred as PetroPerú was illegally pumping crude through the line. The coutcry led to the ousting of PetroPerú's president and a $3.5 million fine. (Mongabay, Aug. 13; Reuters,, El Comercio, Aug. 11)

  1. Fourth or fifth spill from Peru pipeline?

    There seems to be some confusion about whether the recent spill at Condorcanqui is the fourth of fifth from Peru's northern trans-Andean pipeline this year. Many media accounts seem to be overlooking a Feb. 19 rupture at Pucará, in Jaén province of Cajamarca region, that contaminated a rice field and impacted the Río Huancabamba (a tributary of the Marañon). PetroPerú seems not to have acknowledged this spill, and the amount of lost oil has been determined. But Jaén mayor Walter Prieto has been demanding accountability in the incident. (RPP, March 2; La República, Feb. 20; La RepúblicaPeru21, Feb. 19)