UPSC Exam   »   Oil Spills Leads to Environmental Emergency

Oil Spills Leads to Environmental Emergency


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.


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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.


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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.


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