Peru declared this Saturday an “environmental emergency” for 90 days in the coastal area damaged by the spill of 6,000 barrels of crude a week ago in the midst of the waves that occurred, according to the Spanish Repsol, owner of the terminal where the spill occurred, because of a volcanic eruption in Tonga.
With this measure, the government foresees a “sustainable management of the affected territories”, with the respective “recovery and remediation work” to mitigate contamination.
The Ministry of the Environment justified the “emergency” in that the spill “constitutes a sudden event with a significant impact on the coastal marine ecosystem of high biological diversity” as well as “a high risk to public health.”
The declaration of emergency indicates that the execution of the immediate and short-term action plan is in charge of the Spanish oil company Repsol, owner of the La Pampilla Refinery terminal, located in the Ventanilla district of the province of Callao, near Lima, where the disaster occurred.
The Peruvian government gave Repsol a 10-day schedule to complete all cleanup and decontamination actions.
The spill occurred on Saturday, January 15, during the unloading process of the Italian-flagged ship “Mare Doricum” loaded with 965,000 barrels of crude oil.
According to the Spanish company, the spill occurred in the midst of abnormal waves caused by the volcanic eruption in Tonga.
Repsol claims not to be responsible for the incident, since the Peruvian maritime authorities did not issue warnings about a possible increase in waves due to the eruption.
Peru demanded last Wednesday that Repsol “compensate” for the damage caused by the spill of 6,000 barrels of crude oil.
The Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Roberto Sánchez, stated this Saturday that the spill will cause economic losses close to 51 million dollars among people and businesses that live directly and indirectly from tourism, not counting artisanal fishing, according to a statement. from your wallet.
“In a normal season, between January and March (the southern summer season), five million people moved to the affected beaches. The economic loss is immense,” said Sánchez.
He emphasized that “the tourism chain has been fatally damaged.” “We are talking about a series of businesses that are losing everything. This is the case of hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, tour operators, umbrella manufacturers and others. Thousands of jobs are being affected,” he added.
– The spill moves –
According to the analysis of the authorities, the spilled oil moves with the sea current in a northerly direction.
Indeed, the oil has already spread along the coast to more than 40 kilometers from the refinery, causing the death of animals of various marine species and affecting 21 beaches, according to the Ministry of Health, which recommended that people not go to these sites because they are rated “unhealthy”.
Likewise, the zone of Islotes Grupo de Pescadores, which belongs to the National Reserve of the System of Islands, Islets and Puntas Guaneras, “in approximately 512 hectares”, is affected, as well as the Ancón Reserved Zone “in 1,758 hectares”.
The Spanish company reported this Saturday that 2,384 cubic meters “of compromised sand” have already been removed in the clean-up operation in which more than 1,350 people participate, in the contaminated marine and terrestrial areas, including 14 beaches.
The AFP confirmed that on Cavero beach, in Ventanilla, brigades of workers from the Ambipar company, contracted by Repsol, clean crude-impregnated rocks with cloths that absorb the hydrocarbon but not the water.
According to the oil company, 90 machines have been used in the affected area, “including 46 heavy vehicles on land and 13 larger vessels”, as well as “seven skimmers (marine cleaning machines), six floating tanks, three recovery and more than 2,500 meters of containment barrier”, hoping to double the number of barriers “in the next few days”.
Repsol assures that “it is deploying all efforts to respond to the remediation of the spill.”
During the week there were several protests by fishermen and residents of Ventanilla, concerned about the impossibility of developing fishing or maintaining tourist businesses such as restaurants, given the closed beaches.