Monday, February 29, 2016

Peru Declares State of Emergency in 16 Amazon Rainforest Communities Due to Oil Spill

The Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency in 16 Amazon rainforest communities because of oil spills in the Loreto region.

The move was announced on Sunday in the official gazette and will last for 60 days. It came over a month after an oil spill was reported in the district of Imaza, which has a population of about 23,000. Another spill was reported on February 3 in the district of Morona, which is home to about 9,000 people.

The residents of both districts are predominantly indigenous people. The oil spills were detected on sections of the Northern Peruvian Oil Pipeline, which carries crude from the forest over the Andes mountains to refineries through a route on the northern coast of Peru.

The declaration of the state of emergency will provide humanitarian assistance for the affected communities as well as aid in the cleanup operations. President Ollanta Humala declared a health emergency in the region earlier this month because the spill had polluted the rivers that provide drinking water to Imaza and Morona.

Meanwhile, environmental investigators said the spill was caused by pipeline deterioration. Consequently, pipeline operator PetroPeru was fined $3.6 million for failing to maintain the pipeline.

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