Initially estimated to be seven barrels, the government of Peru said that nearly 6,000 barrels of crude oil have spilt into the biodiversity of the country off the coast of Lima. This takes places weeks after Tonga’s volcano erupted and disturbed the operations of Spanish oil company Repsol. It is this company that underreported the amount of oil that has been spilling since last Saturday. The spill took place due to strong waves that rocked a tanker unloading crude at its refinery in the La Pampilla refinery.
On Thursday, the authorities urged the closure of 21 beaches as they were “a serious risk to health”. According to an article by the New York Times:
The government said the oil slick on the surface of the sea extended over an area of water equal to 320 football fields.
Aid, Damages and the Environment
The cleanup operation for the spill serves to be widely inadequate with neither the company nor the state having the capacity to respond to it. So, officials have requested the United Nations and the United States National Response Team to step in. Experts at these organisations can help ensure proper remediation and compensation from the company.
Repsol, according to the Environment Minister is liable to pay over $36 million in fines. Further President Pedro Castillo said:
We’re facing one of the biggest eco-cides on our coast. The state is readying criminal, civil and administrative sanctions [for Repsol].
In response, Repsol put out the following statement:
We reaffirm our commitment to respond effectively and transparently to the public and the competent authorities, prioritizing people and communities.
The company also promises to clean the affected beaches and the maritime area by the end of February.
The spill threatens two protected marine reserves which house sea otters, Humboldt penguins and red-legged cormorants and the livelihood of hundreds of fishermen. Reports show that oil is going to be in the sea for months and will likely affect the fauna, the flora, the beaches the food, and people’s health. Dead fish, seals and birds have already washed up on the coast. Peru’s environmental agency OEFA estimates that 1.7 million square metres (420.08 acres) of soil and 1.2 million square metres of the ocean have already been affected.
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