LIMA – Crude from an oil pipeline spill last month in northern Peru has spread due to rainfall and reached the Marañon River, an organization comprising Amazon communities told EFE on Friday.
The president of the Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Northern Amazon of Peru, or ORPIAN-P, Edwin Montenegro, said he and local indigenous representatives toured a stretch of the Marañon on Jan. 30 and confirmed that the oil had reached that waterway, a major tributary of the Amazon River.
The spill of some 2,000 barrels of crude occurred when state-owned oil company Petroperu’s Northern Peruvian Pipeline began leaking on Jan. 25 at a spot some three kilometers (1.86 miles) from the Chiriaco River, a tributary of the Marañon, in the Amazonas region.
Montenegro said the spilled oil reached the Chiriaco and then the Marañon because the rising water overflowed the protective barriers set up by Petroperu.
“Petroperu is more concerned about recovering the lost oil than in cleaning up the affected area and providing assistance to the communities whose main water source has now been contaminated,” Montenegro said.
The ORPIAN-P president added that the state-owned company had paid members of the affected local communities 10 soles (around $2.85) for each bucket of crude collected in the area.
“A total of 200 people are working – including children – who have no idea how toxic the oil is for their bodies,” Montenegro added.
The ORPIAN-P filed a complaint Monday with the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement, or OEFA, alleging that Petroperu had not carried out maintenance work on the pipeline and failed to act quickly to control the leak.
OEFA representative Marin Garzon told EFE that a group of experts would be dispatched to the affected area to corroborate the information contained in the complaint.
Petroperu repaired the pipeline on Jan. 28, three days after the leak occurred, apparently due to a landslide, the OEFA said earlier this month.
That agency said then that an initial assessment had found that the spill had damaged nearby cacao crops and extended along a 3.5-kilometer (2.1-mile) section of the Inayo, a stream that flows into the Chiriaco, contaminating both banks of that small waterway.