LIMA – A state of emergency declared over a February oil pipeline spill has been extended to six additional Peruvian Amazon communities, the national government said in a decree published Friday in the official gazette.
The decree said the Feb. 3 North Peruvian Pipeline spill affected the Cashacaño stream, the Morona River and adjacent soil in the Morona district, located in the northern region of Loreto.
The spill damaged the local population’s health and adversely affected their livelihoods (fishing and agriculture), it added.
Around 743 people in the indigenous communities of Mayuriaga, Copacabana, Antena Cuatro, Santa Rosa del Marañon, San Francisco and Nuevo San Martin, all located in the Morona district, will be covered by the new 60-day emergency decree.
The national government intervened after a Civil Defense report, cited in the decree, found that the local and regional response was inadequate.
Earlier this week, the community of Mayuriaga signed an agreement with Petroperu, the state-owned company that operates the pipeline, and Civil Defense officials to improve their living conditions.
That accord was reached after protesters seized a helicopter and retained its crew as a protest measure aimed at pressuring the government to declare the community in a state of emergency.
Petroperu said the agreement calls for facilitating actions necessary to provide the community with electricity and telephone service, among other things.
The government’s initial decree covering the Morona district, issued on Feb. 28, declared a state of emergency affecting 16 other communities.
That came after the Feb. 3 North Peruvian Pipeline spill of an undetermined amount of crude contaminated different waterways, including the Mayuriaga and Morona rivers, and affected 2,500 people.
An earlier Jan. 25 spill of between 2,000 and 3,000 barrels of crude from that same pipeline left 100 people injured in Imaza – a district in the Amazonas region, which borders Loreto – and contaminated the Inayo and Chiriaco rivers, used for fishing by area communities.
Among the injured was a 12-year-old boy who participated in the clean-up effort and said Petroperu paid him two soles ($0.57) for each of bucket of oil he collected.
The Osinergmin energy and mining investment regulator, meanwhile, has fined the state-owned company 12.64 million soles (around $3.59 million) over the spill.