Oil Spills in Peru: Relevance
- GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Oil spills: Context
- Recently, the Government of Peru has declared a 90-day environmental emergency in damaged coastal territories, after an oil spill that saw 6,000 barrels of crude oil pour into the sea.
Oil Spills in Peru: Key points
- The Government has said that declaration of environmental emergency will allow for “sustainable management of the affected areas,” through “restoration and remediation”
- Emergency crews in white biosafety suits are using shovels to remove the oily sand, which is then transported to toxic waste dumps.
What caused the oil spill?
- An oil tanker of Spanish energy firm Repsol was the source of this oil spill.
- The incident occurred at the La Pampilla refinery, some 30 kilometers north of the Peruvian capital of Lima in the port city of Callao.
- According to the refinery, the spill was caused by the waves, which resulted from the Tonga volcanic eruption.
- Peru’s health ministry said that currents spread the oil to distances more than 40 kilometers from the refinery, tarring some 21 beaches.
Consequences of the oil spill
- The oil spill has caused the death of marine wildlife and raised concerns around the livelihood of local fishermen and the economic consequences from the loss of tourism.
- Repsol said that 2,384 cubic meters of sand had been affected by the spill.
- Peru has demanded that Repsol compensate for the damage caused by the spill.
- Peruvian legal authorities said that they were investigating the spill as eco-cide and a potential environmental pollution crime.
- This is the worst ecological disaster that has occurred around Lima in recent times and has seriously damaged hundreds of fishermen’s families.
How do oil spills happen?
- Oil spills happen in many different ways. Thousands of oil spills occur in U.S. waters each year.
- Most of these spills are small, for example when oil spills while refuelling a ship. Though small, these spills can still cause damage, especially if they happen in sensitive environments, like beaches, mangroves, and wetlands.
- Large oil spills are however categorised as major, dangerous disasters.
- These tend to happen when pipelines break, big oil tanker ships sink, or drilling operations go wrong.