“Those responsible, where are they?” Water supply and delicate ecosystem contaminated by spate of oil spills in Amazon
A disastrous spate of oil spills in the Peruvian Amazon have gone from bad to worse in recent days, leaving Indigenous tribes frantically trying to clean up the mess left by the nation’s state-owned oil company.
The catastrophic ruptures in Petroperu’s Northern Peruvian Pipeline occurred on January 25th and February 3rd and have threatened the water supply of nearly 10,000 indigenous people, says Amazon Watch.
On Monday, Petroperu officials confirmed to Reuters that the oil has poured into two critical Amazon River tributaries that eight Achuar tribes depend on for water. According to the news agency, these two tributaries of the Amazon River, the Chiriaco and Morona rivers, are now filled with 3,000 barrels of oil.
Critics charge that the spills continued to spread and caused far worse damage after the responsible company, Petroperu, failed to act to contain the oil released by the pipeline breakages.
A third pipeline rupture was rumored on February 19, reports Amazon Watch, but the state-owned petroleum company took to Twitter to deny those reports.
The devastating spills occurred mere months after Indigenous activists staged massive protests against Peru’s oil industry in September.
Over the weekend, local activist Marco Arana Zegarra posted horrific images of the oil’s spread in the Chiriaco tributary:
“At least this time,” observed Zegarra, “Petroperu has given Indigenous populations suits to wear for cleaning up oil.”
“Those responsible? Where are they?” Zegarra appealed.Waterways flow with black sludge and trees and flowers are rendered nearly unrecognizable by a thick coating of oil in video footage of the spills: