Pipeline rupture in Ecuador’s Amazon fouls river


Ecuador’s trans-Andean Heavy Crude Pipeline (OCP) ruptured amid heavy rains Jan. 28, spilling oil into a sensitive area of Napo province and contaminating several rivers draining into the Amazon Basin, including the Napo, Piedra Fina, Quijos and, most seriously, the Coca. The contamination also penetrated Cayambe-Coca National Park. Pipeline operator OCP Ecuador didn’t announce that it had stopped pumping through the stricken line until the following day, and at first denied that any waterways had been contaminated. This was repudiated in a statement from the Confederation of Amazonian Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONFENIAE), which cited reports from impacted Kichwa communities.

“The impact of the oil spill has reached the Kichwa community of Panduyaku in the province of Sucumbíos,” CONFENIAE tweeted Jan. 29, along with a video showing crude polluting the Rio Coca.

In April 2020, both the OCP and the state-owned Trans-Ecuadoran Oilduct System (SOTE) pipeline burst in the same area, in an accident blamed on erosion, triggering a major spill into the Rio Coca. (EcoWatch, DW, Mongabay)

There was also a major oil spill on the Rio Coca in June 2013.

Photo: Ecuador Ministry of Environment via EcoWatch